Man who drove car at French troops not charged with terrorism

The car in a ditch after a man tried to ram the vehicle into French troops protecting a mosque in Valence, France, on Jan 1, 2016.
The car in a ditch after a man tried to ram the vehicle into French troops protecting a mosque in Valence, France, on Jan 1, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (Reuters) - A man who drove a car at troops guarding a French mosque was placed under investigation on charges of attempted manslaughter on Sunday (Jan 3), the local prosecutor said, but investigators said they ruled out terrorism for now.

They said the 29-year-old Frenchman of Tunisian descent seemed to have acted alone in "a fit of anger" and did not appear to be linked to terrorist groups.

The driver, unemployed for several months, rammed his car into a group of four soldiers in a car park outside a large mosque in the southeastern town of Valence on Friday afternoon, investigators said.

"He explained that when he parked his car in front of the mosque and saw the soldiers, he got the urge to ram into them because French troops are killing civilians in Syria," Valence prosecutor Alex Perrin told Reuters.

"He doesn't claim to be part of an Islamist movement," the prosecutor said. "On the face of it, this seems like an isolated act."

Psychiatric tests would be carried out, but the suspect sounded coherent, the prosecutor added. The man was placed under temporary detention but would remain in hospital where he is being treated for gunshot wounds.

France has been on high alert since Islamic State militants killed 130 people in Paris on Nov 13 and soldiers are protecting sensitive places across the country, including religious sites.