PARIS • French police shot and arrested a suspect in a dramatic highway chase yesterday, after a car smashed into soldiers outside a barracks in a Paris suburb, injuring six.
The suspected terror attack was the latest in a string of assaults that have hit France since January 2015, claiming more than 230 lives.
The servicemen were hit by a BMW which drove down a quiet street in the upmarket western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret at around 8am.
The car accelerated as it neared the troops, rammed into them and then sped away.
"I heard a huge crash, which I thought was the sound of scaffolding being put up," said Mr Thierry Chappe, a resident in a building opposite the crime scene.
Mr Jean-Claude Veillant, a resident of an apartment building directly above the scene, witnessed part of the attack.
"I heard a loud noise, the sound of scraping metal. Shortly after, I saw one of the badly wounded lying in front of the Vigipirate (army patrol) vehicle and another one behind it, receiving treatment," he told reporters.
WAVE OF ATTACKS
A man armed with a machete attacked four soldiers on patrol at Paris' Louvre Museum.
An extremist shot and killed a policeman on the Champs-Elysees, the French capital's most famous boulevard.
A 40-year-old Algerian doctorate student, who had pledged allegiance to ISIS, attacked a policeman with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral.
Police later gave chase to the vehicle on a highway north of Paris, and shot and wounded the suspect. The man, in his late 30s, was arrested, said sources involved in the manhunt.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb described the act as "deliberate" and carried out by a "man on his own".
He spoke after visiting three of the injured soldiers together with Defence Minister Florence Parly.
All six were taken to hospital, but none of them reportedly has life- threatening injuries.
They were part of the 7,000- strong anti-terrorism Sentinelle force set up in January 2015, which sees armed, uniformed soldiers patrolling the streets and guarding high-risk areas such as tourist sites and religious buildings.
Mr Collomb said the forces had been attacked on six different occasions since 2015.
France has been under a state of emergency since major attacks in Paris in November 2015.
The Paris prosecutors' office said its anti-terrorism unit has launched a probe into "attempted killings... in relation to a terrorist undertaking".
Levallois-Perret is about 5km from city centre landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Elysee Presidential Palace.
Police said the area, quieter than normal in peak summer holiday season, was cordoned off after the incident.
The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group has repeatedly targeted France because of its participation in the US-led international coalition fighting the Islamist militants, with French jets carrying out air strikes in Syria.
"The ongoing probe will determine (the suspect's) motives and the circumstances in which he acted," Ms Parly said in a statement earlier.
The incident came just four days after Sentinelle soldiers intervened to control an 18-year-old with a history of psychological problems at the Eiffel Tower, where he brandished a knife and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is great).
He told investigators he wanted to kill a soldier, sources close to the case said.
The wave of attacks in France has had a serious impact on tourism in the world's top tourist destination, but the industry has begun to recover as incidents have become more widespread and generally less deadly.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS