Paris soldiers hit by vehicle outside barracks; police hunt for driver

Police in Paris are searching for a BMW car and its driver who rammed into a group of soldiers outside a barracks in a suburb northwest of Paris on Wednesday morning.

France’s counter-terror unit is investigating the attack, which left six soldiers injured, three seriously, according to Paris police. The soldiers’ injuries are not life threatening.

The attack happened at the Place de Verdun in Levallois-Perret around 8:00 a.m. local time. Levallois-Perret, a quiet and affluent neighborhood, is home to the headquarters of the DCRI, France’s counter intelligence agency.

“There was no doubt that this was a deliberate act,” the mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, told BFMTV.

Balkany said the car was “pre-positioned” in a small alleyway, waiting for troops from the 35th Infantry Regiment to come out of the building.

The group of soldiers are part of France’s Operation Sentinel, set up in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in January 2015.

One eyewitness, who gave her name as Zakia, told BFMTV that she was awoken by a “boom” before running to her balcony.

“I saw a soldier on the ground … then the fire service and paramedics arrived,” she said. “I saw the whole scene, and I’m shocked.”

Another unnamed woman told BFMTV she heard a “large boom, from, say, a crash, a car accident.”

“We heard all the ambulances arriving… We saw all the emergency services’ vehicles: firefighters, police, paramedics. We saw two men on the ground, being cared for by firefighters and doctors.”

France still in state of emergency

France’s Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb wrote on Twitter that he was visiting the soldiers injured in the incident, while the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted offering “all her support” to those injured.

France has been in a state of emergency introduced after a terror attack in Paris killed 130 people in November 2015.

This is the sixth incident to affect French security forces in 2017 alone.

The incidents have taken place at high-profile tourist destinations such as the Louvre, the Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Paris’ Orly airport.