French police hunting a driver who rammed a car into a group of soldiers in Paris early Wednesday morning have shot, wounded and arrested a man on a highway north of the city.
A Lille policeman was injured by stray gunfire during the arrest, a spokeswoman for the Paris prosecutor told CNN.
The man, who was unarmed and hit with five bullets while attempting to evade police on the A16 motorway, is in a serious condition, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV. The broadcaster reported that he was arrested between Boulogne-sur-Mer and Calais.
The suspect, born in 1980, reportedly drove his vehicle into a police car before being arrested, according to BFMTV. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed that the person arrested is the same man who carried out the attack.
France’s counter-terror unit is investigating the attack, in a suburb of northwest Paris, which left six soldiers injured, three seriously, according to Paris police. The soldiers’ injuries are not life-threatening.
Police had been searching for a BMW car and its driver who rammed into a group of soldiers outside a barracks at the Place de Verdun in Levallois-Perret around 8 a.m. local time.
Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb said the attack was a “deliberate act.”
“The car accelerated towards the soldiers for five meters in order to hit them,” he told reporters. “We do not believe this could be an accident.”
The mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, told BFMTV that 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 is part of France’s Operation Sentinel, set up in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in January 2015.
Levallois-Perret — a quiet and affluent neighborhood — is home to the headquarters of the DCRI, France’s counter intelligence agency.
One eyewitness, who gave her name as Zakia, told BFMTV that she was awakened 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 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.