On Wednesday morning in the Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret, a group of French soldiers was hit by a vehicle. Following the incident, multiple injuries have been reported. The Associated Pres reported that, as of 9:40 a.m. local time, the suspected driver is currently on the run.
CNN affiliate BFMTV noted that the soldiers, who were reportedly all members of the 35th Infantry Regiment, were apparently leaving their barracks at Place de Verdun at around 8 a.m. when the vehicle struck them. The military personnel injured in the incident have reportedly been taken to Percy military hospital at Clamart. None of the injuries are expected to be life-threatening.
According to Sky News, the soldiers had been on a standard patrol in the suburb as part of "Operation Sentinelle," a program that was created in 2015, following the Charlie Hebdo attack, and designed to protect French citizens from further terror attacks. According to The Guardian, 10,000 soldiers patrol France as part of the program, along with 4,700 police and gendarmes.
Paris police reported in a tweet that they are actively searching for the driver and vehicle, saying, "Police intervention is underway. Search underway for vehicle."
The Guardian also reported that the Mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, indicated that he believed the attack on the soldiers was intentional, saying in an interview on BFMTV,
It’s without doubt a deliberate act … This vehicle was waiting for them ... The BMW accelerated very quickly the moment they came out. This happened in the middle of the town. It happened very quickly ... Levallois is a calm place … this is an odious aggression against our military that nobody expected.
The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, tweeted her support to Balkany and the Parisian suburb, saying "I hope with all my heart that their attacker will be quickly apprehended."
Roger Karoutchi, a local senator, also expressed his support via The Guardian as well as appeared to caution against assuming motives, saying, “We have to be careful, but it wasn’t a classic road accident. As for the motives, we will have to wait until the person or people concerned are arrested.”
While one cannot verify the true nature of the incident until more information is obtained, the event nonetheless is likely very rattling to the French, who have witnessed security personnel be subjected to multiple attacks throughout the past year. Hopefully the suspect and vehicle will soon be apprehended so French authorities can obtain more information about the incident.