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TERRORISM

Man shot and arrested over car attack on anti-terror soldiers outside Paris

A man has been shot and arrested in relation to Wednesday morning's assault when anti-terror soldiers in the northwestern suburbs of Paris were rammed into by a car, leaving six injured.

Man shot and arrested over car attack on anti-terror soldiers outside Paris
An armed French soldier stands at the site where a car slammed into soldiers in Levallois-Perret. AFP
French security forces have shot and arrested a man suspected of being behind an attack on a group of soldiers on Wednesday morning in the town of Levallois-Perret, security sources told AFP.
 
The suspect, Hamou B., aged 36, was intercepted on the A16 motorway north of the French capital in a vehicle used to drive into the soldiers, the sources said, asking not to be named.
 
After a chase, armed officers shot the driver five times, wounding the man, who was then arrested, sources involved in the manhunt said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
 
The suspect, who lived in the Yvelines suburb of Paris and had no previous convictions, has been hospitalised in Lille but the French press has reported that his life is not in danger. 

 
An emergency medical helicopter arrives on the site after the police arrested a suspect on the A16. AFP
 
One source close to the case said the man had been stopped at the wheel of a BMW driving towards the northern port of Calais.
   
A second legal source added: “The arrested individual, born in 1980, is suspected to be the culprit” of the assault in the Levallois-Perret area of Paris (see below) at around 8am.
 
Levallois-Perret, where the incident occurred. Google maps.   
 
“He was driving the vehicle we were looking for and tried to flee,” the source added, leading police to open fire.

 
French security forces launched a manhunt on Wednesday after a car ploughed into anti-terrorism soldiers outside their barracks, injuring six, three more seriously. 
 
French soldiers gather at the site where a car slammed into soldiers on patrol in Levallois-Perret. AFP
 
“I heard a huge crash which I thought was the sound of scaffolding being put up,” Thierry Chappe, a resident in a building opposite the crime scene, told AFP.
 
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb described the act as “deliberate” and carried out by a “man on his own”.
 
He spoke after visiting three of the injured soldiers, who belonged to the 35th infantry, along with Defence Minister Florence Parly. All six were taken to hospital, but none has life-threatening injuries, they said.
 
The Paris prosecutors' office said its anti-terrorism unit has launched a probe into “attempted killings… in relation to a terrorist undertaking”.
 
Mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany said, describing the incident as “without doubt a deliberate act”.
 
French Interior Minister (L) and French Defence Minister walk after meeting soldiers wounded in an attack. AFP
 
Balkany told the all-news channel BFMTV that the car “accelerated very fast when they (soldiers) were coming out” of the barracks.
 
  
 
Officials and rescuers gather near vehicles after a car slammed into soldiers on patrol. AFP 
 
The soldiers were engaged in Sentinel Operation (Opération Sentinelle), a French military operation deployed after the January 2015 Île-de-France attacks, with the objective of protecting sensitive “points” of the territory from terrorism. 
 
France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015 and has seen a string of attacks on security forces who have been regularly targeted, particularly those guarding key tourist sites.
   
An 18-year-old with a history of psychological problems was arrested on Saturday at the Eiffel Tower after brandishing a knife and shouting “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest).
   
He told investigators he wanted to kill a soldier, sources close to the case told AFP.
 
Police work at the site where a car slammed into soldiers. AFP 
 
String of bloody attacks
 
In the bloodiest attack targeting France, 130 people were killed in a wave of shootings and bombings in Paris on November 13, 2015, in carnage claimed by Isis.
   
In January 2015, two brothers who had vowed allegiance to Al-Qaeda gunned down 12 people at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
   
France is part of the US-led international coalition fighting Isis and has carried out air strikes against the extremist group in Syria.
   
In February, a man armed with a machete attacked four soldiers on patrol at Paris's Louvre Museum, while in April another extremist shot and killed a policeman on the Champs Elysees.
   
In June, a 40-year-old Algerian doctorate student who had pledged allegiance to Isis attacked a policeman with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral
 

The man, aged in his late 30s, was intercepted on the A16 motorway north of the French capital in a vehicle used to drive into the soldiers, the sources said, asking not to be named.

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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