Six soldiers mown down by car in 'ambush' near France's anti-terrorism HQ in Paris suburb

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Six soldiers were injured today when a car smashed into them close to the headquarters of France’s anti-terrorist police unit in Paris.

The BMW crashed into the troops in an apparent ambush as they were taking part in Operational Sentinelle, a security initiative set up following attacks by Islamic State on Paris. 

A manhunt was launched for the driver who sped away after the suspected attack in the centre of Levallois-Perret, a north-west suburb of Paris, shortly after 8am local time.

Two of the infantrymen were seriously injured when the car headed into the group “at high speed”. The four others were said to be “lightly hurt”,


Soldiers at the scene of the attack in the suburb of Levallois-Perret

“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.”


Emergency workers treat victims at the scene of the attack in Paris (AFP/Getty Images)

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. 


A soldier on patrol in the vicinity of the attack, which left two servicemen seriously injured

The BMW responsible was “parked up in wait close to a barracks” before it struck, said Mr Balkany. 

“It is an intolerable, incomprehensible act,” he added, saying that the soldiers involved in Operation Sentinel were there “to protect the public”. 


Soldiers secure the area near the scene where French soliders were hit (REUTERS)

The attack happened as a three-soldier night patrol handed over their duties to a day patrol of the same number, said local council spokesman David-Xavier Weiss.

“The arrangement of the square meant that the attacker did not have enough of a run-up to cause more damage,” said Mr Weiss.

He said the men were standing next to a temporary barracks set up by the council for soldiers taking part in Operation Sentinel. 


The incident happened in the suburb of Levallois-Perret (REUTERS)

“It gives them a place to change, eat and rest,” he said. The municipal building is less that a mile from the anti-terrorist HQ.

A security perimeter was set up around the area, with shops and homes evacuated, and a local park shut.

An eye witness to the attack said he “heard shouts, including insults being aimed at the soldiers”.

The man, who asked not to be named, added: “There was a lot of engine revving and then the soldiers scattered.” 


Paris: Police work near the scene where French soliders were hit and injured (REUTERS)

Patrols have been stepped up around Levallois-Perret as it contains the HQ of France’s anti-terrorist sub-directorate (SDAT).  This is the French judicial police service at the heart of the operation to prevent terrorist attacks. 

The weekly council of ministers was taking place at the Elysée Palace as the first reports emerged.

There are 10,000 soldiers patrolling France as part of Opération Sentinelle, and 4,700 police and gendarmes.

France remains under a state of emergency following a long string of attacks, including an attempt to kill a soldier at the Eiffel Tower on Saturday.

The 19-year-old psychiatric patient was today in custody after he brandished a knife and pledged allegiance to Isis. 

An Interior Ministry spokesman said the security threat to France remained “at its highest level”.

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