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French police have detained a man after a shoot-out on a motorway in their hunt for a suspected terrorist who mowed down soldiers.
Police pursued a dark BMW which fled the scene after ploughing into six soldiers close to the headquarters of France’s anti-terrorist police unit in Paris on Wednesday morning.
A major operation was launched to find the vehicle which resulted in a shoot-out on a motorway in northern France, French TV reported. The suspect was then arrested.
Officials said the arrest was violent and that police opened fire on the suspect, who was wounded in the gunfire.
The arrest took place on the A16 highway when the man was stopped as police hunted for cars suspected of involvement in the attack.
The officials said it is too early to say for certain that the man was the driver who rammed a car into soldiers in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.
Six soldiers were wounded in the attack outside their barracks, with two suffering “serious injuries”.
“It was a deliberate act – the car accelerated,” said Patrick Balkany, the mayor of Levallois-Perret.
“The car sped away, and police are looking for it.”
Mr Balkany said the most seriously injured had been taken to Percy hospital. They were all members of the 35th Infantry Regiment.
By 10am, the car was still unaccounted for, as hundreds of other servicemen were brought into the operation to find it.
Mr Balkany added that the BMW responsible was “parked up in wait close to a barracks” before it struck, said Mr Balkany.
The street is normally guarded by posts that are removed when vehicles move in and out, according to residents.
The driver must have known exactly when to strike, said resident Jean-Claude Veillant, 70.
Mr Veillant said he saw two uniformed soldiers prone on the ground when he came down to the entrance of his 13-story building at 7:50am on Wednesday morning.
“It was horrible,” he said, explaining that both soldiers appeared to be in bad shape and that one of them was unconscious.
“They must’ve really planned this,” he said.
French counter-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation aimed at pursuing perpetrators on charges of attempted murder of security forces in connection with a terrorist enterprise, the Paris prosecutor’s office said.
The move means authorities believe the attack was deliberate and planned with a terrorist motive.
French President Emmanuel Macron is holding a previously scheduled top-level security meeting.
He has pledged to boost military spending and entrench security measures after a string of Islamic extremist attacks since 2015.
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