French police shot and arrested a man on Wednesday suspected of deliberately ramming his car into a group of soldiers in a Parisian suburb hours earlier, injuring six of them in what the government called a deliberate attack.
Armed police from elite units tracked the fugitive for five hours after the attack before cornering him on a motorway in northern France and shooting him several times.
The suspect was unarmed when he was trapped by police some 260 km north of Paris where he had attacked the soldiers in the affluent suburb of Levallois-Perret, a judicial source said.
There was no immediate word on his condition. The man appeared to have lain in wait for the soldiers in a pedestrian zone near their base in Levallois-Perret on the northwestern edge of the capital where France’s domestic counter-terrorism agency is based.
He accelerated his BMW car into the troops, who were starting their patrol, when they were a few metres away, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said, before speeding off and sparking a huge manhunt.
“This was a deliberate act, not an accident,” Collomb told reporters outside the hospital where the three more seriously injured victims were being treated. He said a terrorism investigation had been launched.
The soldiers were part of Operation Sentinel, launched in the wake of radicalized attacks in Paris in early 2015.
The Levallois-Perret attack was the 15th on troops and police in the last two-and-a-half years, many of them ISIS-inspired. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told lawmakers in parliament that the assailant had been detained.
One policeman was injured by a stray bullet in the operation.
The daily newspaper Le Parisien named the suspect as 37-year-old Hamou B., originally from Satrouville west of Paris and said that searches had been carried out at his home and those of his associates. The Paris prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
“I saw the traffic stop ahead of me,” said one truck driver who identified himself as Teddy, speaking on the motorway after the suspect was seized.
“The police got out their cars, took cover and started firing. The gunshots were coming from everywhere.”
The BMW car, the same one that was used in the attack, was riddled with bullet holes and surrounded by balaclava-clad police officers, a Reuters cameraman said.