Paris Police Catch Driver After Soldiers Rammed in Levallois-Perret: Mayor

by Nancy Ing and Alexander Smith /  / Updated 
Image: Paris Attack
Officials and rescuers gather near vehicles after a car slammed into soldiers on patrol in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret.Thierry Chappe / AFP/Getty Images

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PARIS — A vehicle plowed into a group of soldiers in a Paris suburb Wednesday in what the local mayor said was "without a doubt" the work of a "terrorist."

A SWAT team tracked, intercepted and shot the suspect five times while he was traveling on a highway around 150 miles north of Paris, officials told NBC News.

The suspect was not killed, and officers detained him and took him to hospital. He is a 36-year-old man, according to a city official.

Patrick Balkany, mayor of Levallois-Perret, identified the suspect as Hamou Benlatreche. Balkany said authorities don't know a motivation in the attack or whether it was directed by an outside group or if he acted alone.

Earlier, French counterterrorism prosecutors opened an investigation after the suspect, driving a BMW, injured six soldiers by ramming them as they left their barracks in the Levallois-Perret region of the city.

The country's Minister of the Armed Forces said three of the wounded soldiers were seriously injured but were not critical.

Balkany told NBC News earlier: "Without a doubt this is a terrorist attack ... he deliberately drove out to hit the soldiers."

He added that he was saddened at the attack, which was recorded on multiple surveillance cameras.

Image: Police Make Arrest
Police gave chase to the vehicle on a motorway north of Paris, and shot and wounded the suspect.Philippe Huguen / AFP - Getty Images

Jean Claude Veillant, who lives in an apartment above the square where the incident occurred, said he heard "a noise and then loud cries" just before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. ET).

"My wife and I we got up and went to the balcony," said the 70-year-old. "There we saw bodies lying on the ground, soldiers were running and some soldiers were trying to help others who looked injured."

The soldiers are part of Operation Sentinel, a large-scale security operation to patrol French towns and cities that was deployed after the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 2015.

France has been under a state of emergency since the coordinated terror attacks that killed 130 people in November that year.

In recent years, European cities such as London, Berlin, Nice and Stockholm have seen a slew of low-tech attacks where the perpetrators have used vehicles as ramming weapons.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris. Alexander Smith reported from London.

CORRECTION (Aug. 9, 1 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the source of information on the suspect. It was a city official, not the Paris prosecutor's office.

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