At least six French soldiers were injured, three of them seriously, after being hit by a vehicle in a Paris suburb, French Armed forces confirmed, adding that a police operation is underway in the area.
The incident took place in Levallois-Perret commune in northwestern suburb of Paris, some 6 km from the capital, local police prefecture said on Twitter.
“Police are everywhere, [they] set up a security perimeter and the neighbors are questioned,” one local told Le Parisien newspaper.
“Incident in Levallois Perret: police operation underway. [Police are] searching for a vehicle,” the statement said.
According to French media, the vehicle hit several soldiers from Operation Sentinelle, a French military operation deployed in the aftermath of the 2015 terrorist attacks.
Franceinfo spoke to the mayor of Levallois-Perret, who condemned the possible attack against military personnel in the commune. He said that the incident took place not far from the town hall.
“I find this shameful,” Levallois-Perret Mayor Patrick Balkany said, calling the incident an “intolerable aggression.”
“Without any doubt, it was a deliberate act,” Balkany later told BFMTV.
According to BFMTV, the vehicle , identified as BMW, was driven by a man.
The mayor of Paris has expressed her support for the six injured soldiers, wishing them a quick recovery.
Minister for the Armed Forces Florence Parly condemned the incident as a “cowardly act,” saying that the investigation is yet to determine the motives of the attacker.
The counter-terrorism unit of the Paris prosecutor’s office has launched an investigation into the incident, AFP reports, citing the prosecutor’s office.
France declared a state of emergency following attacks in Paris in November 2015, in which over 130 people killed. It was re-extended on several occasions. The current iteration was extended earlier in July and will last until November 1.
There have been roughly a dozen terror attacks in France since Nov. 2015, and more than half of those targeted military patrols or police. In June, two separate attackers targeted armed patrols near the Notre Dame Cathedral and on the Champs-Élysées, causing only minor injuries. In April, a gunman opened fire on the Champs-Élysées, killing a police officer and wounding two other people. Police returned fire, killing the gunman, who was later identified as Karim Cheurfi, a French national. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the April attack, said SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors the extremist group’s communications.
Wednesday’s incident is the second potential terrorist attack in just a few days in the Paris region. On Saturday night, a knife-wielding man attempted to force his way into the Eiffel Tower.
The man, who was shouting “Allahu akbar”—Arabic for “God is great”—was quickly detained by police and no one was harmed, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor’s office said. The man has a history of psychological problems, she added, without disclosing further details. “Psychological problems” has become Europe’s generic cop out when it wishes to avoid any debate or discussion on the ongoing terrorist attacks by radicalized jihadists.
In July, the French Senate greenlighted a controversial counter-terrorism bill which would make the measures introduced during the two-year state of emergency permanent. It is yet to be signed into law by President Emmanuel Macron, who initially introduced it to parliament.