Three injured as car rams into Chinese students near Toulouse

French prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau speaking to media outside the Blagnac campus of the Institute for Social Research, where the attack took place, last Friday. According to reports, a 28-year-old man who had previously suffered from severe psych
French prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau speaking to media outside the Blagnac campus of the Institute for Social Research, where the attack took place, last Friday. According to reports, a 28-year-old man who had previously suffered from severe psychiatric problems "deliberately" rammed a car into a group of pedestrians near Toulouse.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOULOUSE (France) • A man "deliberately" rammed his car into a group of pedestrians, injuring three Chinese students - one of them seriously - near the French city of Toulouse, the authorities said.

The attack was not linked to terrorism, they added.

The 28-year-old driver, who was arrested immediately after last Friday's incident in the city's Blagnac suburb, "purposefully hit three people" on a crosswalk, Toulouse prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau said.

The suspect, a single man who lives with his mother in Blagnac, had previously suffered from severe psychiatric problems and was released from a court-ordered hospital stay last December, the prosecutor said.

"What matters in this case is the psychiatric profile of the person," he said.

"The individual arrested immediately after the event said he had been planning this act for a month," the prosecutor said later in a statement.

When asked about the possibility that the man was motivated by terrorism, the prosecutor said the attack was "nothing of that order".

PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS

What matters in this case is the psychiatric profile of the person... The individual arrested immediately after the event said he had been planning this act for a month.

TOULOUSE PROSECUTOR PIERRE-YVES COUILLEAU, on the 28-year-old suspect.

The driver has had about 10 previous convictions for non-terror related crimes, he said.

The investigation is to be handled by regular judicial police rather than Paris' anti-terror unit, he said.

The victims are Chinese exchange students at the ICD-Toulouse International Business School. A 23-year-old woman was seriously injured, and two men, aged 22 and 23, were also injured, and one of them remains in hospital, the prosecutor said.

The woman's life is not in danger, police said.

The attack occurred in front of the Blagnac campus of the Institute for Social Research, an Agence France-Presse journalist said.

Last Friday night, France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb praised the police's response, saying "the investigation will determine the nature of his act".

The attack came days after China asked France to "ensure the security" of its nationals, who have been regular victims of thieves.

On Nov 2, a group of around 40 Chinese tourists were attacked with tear gas and robbed outside a three-star hotel near Paris's Orly airport.

Last Friday, a teenager who was 15 years old at the time of the attack, was sentenced in juvenile court to two years in prison for violently attacking and robbing a Chinese textile worker last year in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers. The 49-year-old man died of his injuries five days later.

France has also been the target of a series of vehicle attacks by extremists inspired by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group.

In July last year, a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 12, 2017, with the headline 'Three injured as car rams into Chinese students near Toulouse'. Print Edition | Subscribe