Monday 23 July 2018

Man held for driving his car at French soldiers

The funeral coffin of Col. Arnaud Beltrame arrives outside the Carcassonne cathedral in Carcassonne, southern France yesterday. Col Beltrame was given a posthumous Legion of Honor for his heroism after swapping himself for a hostage.
The funeral coffin of Col. Arnaud Beltrame arrives outside the Carcassonne cathedral in Carcassonne, southern France yesterday. Col Beltrame was given a posthumous Legion of Honor for his heroism after swapping himself for a hostage.

Henry Samuel

Police have arrested a man suspected of trying to ram his car into soldiers jogging near their barracks in southeast France, without causing any injuries.

The arrest came hours after a man hurled abuse in Arabic at a group of soldiers out jogging at around 8am yesterday in Varces-Allieres-et-Risset, near Grenoble, and later tried to run down another group returning from a run, said army spokesman Colonel Benoit Brulon. "The soldiers managed to get up onto the pavement without being hit," Mr Brulon said.

The incident sparked fears of a fresh terrorist attack coming just days after a 25-year-old radicalised gunman killed four people, including a policeman who took the place of a hostage in a supermarket siege.

Yesterday all four victims of the attack in Carcassonne and nearby Trebes were laid to rest in the region.

After an intense manhunt, police announced on Twitter that they had arrested the "owner of the vehicle" used in the apparent attack in Echirolles, around 7.5km to the north of Varces-Allieres-et-Risset, where the incident took place. Earlier they arrested another suspect in Grenoble.

The local state prefect denounced an "odious act" and Grenoble judicial police have launched an investigation.

The apparent attempt to ram the soldiers appeared deliberate because there was a gap of around half-an-hour between the driver shouting at the soldiers and driving back to hit them, Pierre-Yves Sarzaud of the army's public relations unit told BFM TV.

If confirmed, it would not be the first such deliberate act; in August, police shot and arrested a man who rammed his car into soldiers on patrol in an upmarket Paris suburb, injuring six.

According to BFM TV, police were treating the case as serious, but believed it may have been a criminal rather than terrorist act involving a drunk driver. They were reportedly basing this supposition on the fact that a woman had phoned police earlier yesterday to alert them to the fact that she had a row with her inebriated partner, who had driven off in a Peugeot 208.

Over 240 people have been killed in a string of jihadist attacks around France over the past three years.

Irish Independent

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