With France still on heightened alert for terror attacks the latest unprovoked attack on a member of the country's armed forces will be of huge concern to authorities, if reports are confirmed.
According to a report in L'Express newspaper the soldier, who was not wearing military attire as was initially reported, was attacked on Thursday evening in the town of Saint-Julien-du Puy, in the Tarn area of southern France.
The victim, from the 8th parachute regiment based in Castres was punched and then knifed with a box cutter by two individuals as he was training, a source from the Gendarmes – France's military police, told Europe1 radio.
“One of them was carrying box cutter. They attacked the soldier and spoke about the situation in the Middle East,” said the source.
The source said the two attackers reproached the soldier for “France's bombing raids in Syria”.
However doubt has since emerged over the soldiers version of events with later reports suggesting the altercation may have been a settling of score and not an Islamist attack as was suggested.
The victim was taken to hospital, but his condition, initially described as serious is believed to be stable. The two alleged attackers are still on the run.
While the circumstances of Thursday's attack remains unclear, French soldiers have been attacked on the streets of France for motives apparently linked to the situation in the Middle East.
Only last month a soldier on patrol in the east of the country was sliced by an “Arabic speaking man” wielding a box cutter.
In January a driver deliberately accelerated his car, a Peugeot station wagon, as he headed towards four soldiers in a car park outside a large mosque.
Investigators found “jihadist propaganda images” on a computer at the man's home, and the assailant reportedly said the words “Allah is great” during the attack.
There was no indication the suspect was a member of any terror organisation.
In February 2015 a knife-wielding man attacked soldiers patrolling Nice.
In May 2013 a solder was attacked by a man with a knife in La Defense business district near Paris.