French Counterterrorism Prosecutors Are Investigating Collision Between Runaway Vehicle & Soldiers

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As news continues to emerge about the vehicle collision with French soldiers in the Parisian suburb of Levallois-Perret, many are wondering whether the incident was an act of terrorism. French counterterrorism prosecutors recently announced that they have opened a case that is further examining the incident.

The incident being investigated occurred around 8 a.m. local time. A group of soldiers from from the 35th Infantry Regiment were repotedly leaving their barracks at the Place de Verdun in Levallois-Perret when a vehicle ploghed into them. Six soldiers were reportedly injured in the incident, with three seemingly experiencing serious injuries. All of the injured personnel were taken to the Percy military hospital at Clamart. The soldiers had been deployed to the area as part of "Opération Sentinelle," a program started in 2015 that was designed to combat terrorist attacks in France by increasing police and military patrols in the country.

According to The Guardian, French police say the vehicle ambushed the group of soldiers as they were about to begin a new patrol shift. Both the vehicle, which was reportedly a BMW, and the driver are still at large and police are actively searching for them.

As police continue to search for the perpetrator, French counterterrorism prosecutors have opened an investigation into the incident. According to the BBC, the Paris prosecutors' office said that the agency was examining "attempted killings ... in relation to a terrorist undertaking".

The Mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, discussed the incident shortly after it happened and indicated that he believed that it was an intentional act, saying during an interview with BFMTV that,

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.

According to The Guardian, France's defense minister, Florence Parly, stressed the importance of capturing the suspect in order to assess the motivation behind the incident, saying, “Security forces are actively seeking the perpetrator, who is on the run. The ongoing probe will determine his motives and the circumstances in which he acted."

The incident has likely been very jarring for the French public, as the country has unfortunately experienced a spate of terrorist attacks and attacks on security personnel in recent years.