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Driver rams car into French soldiers guarding mosque in Valence

A man has rammed his car into a group of troops guarding a mosque in the southeast French city of Valence, injuring a soldier and elderly Muslim man. The driver was wounded when shot at by soldiers.

The man accused of carrying out the attack was not immediately identified when arrested on Friday, according to a statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Defense Minister Jean-Yves L. Drian. His motives were not known, the officials added.

The statement added the driver was taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The injured passerby was a 72-year-old male worshipper, who was hit in the calf by a stray bullet shot by soldiers, Valence mayor Nicolas Daragon told French television news channel iTele TV. The soldier sustained slight injuries to his legs.

“The four soldiers were in front of the mosque, a moderate, quiet mosque, in between two prayer sessions, at a time when many worshippers arrived," Daragon said. “A car drove at them.”

Watch video 00:26

Driver shot as he drives at French soldiers

The perpetrator attempted to hit the soldiers twice, and they shot at him on the second attempt, he added.

“Even if this happened near a mosque, the target was the soldiers,” the mayor stated.

France has been on high alert since “Islamic State” (IS) militants killed 130 people in shootings and suicide bombs in Paris in November.

Across the country soldiers are protecting sensitive places, including official buildings and religious sites.

jlw/jil (Reuters, AP)

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