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Valence driver 'wanted to kill soldiers'

A man who tried to run down soldiers in France wanted to kill them, and to be killed himself, a local prosecutor has stated. However, there was no evidence to indicate links to a terrorist group.

The 29-year-old who drove his car into troops guarding a mosque in France on New Year's Day seemed to have acted alone, Valence prosecutor Alex Perrin told reporters on Saturday.

The investigators have found no evidence that the French citizen of Tunisian origin was linked to a terrorist group. Perrin added that the suspect reportedly shouted "Allah is great," which suggested "some religious element."

According to the local prosecutor, the man told investigators he wanted to kill the soldiers "because troops killed people." At the same time, the suspect - who seemed "rather confused" - said he wanted to be killed by soldiers.

Perrin added that the suspect was an unemployed man from the suburbs of Lyon who was visiting his parents-in-law in Valence.

Witnesses said the driver deliberately accelerated his Peugeot car as he headed towards a group of four soldiers in a car park outside a large mosque in the suburb of Valence. One of the soldiers and a 72-year-old Muslim worshipper were hurt.

The suspect was also injured in the arm and leg when the soldiers opened fire.

France is on high alert following the November 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.

More than 10,000 soldiers are deployed across the country to guard premises such as mosques and synagogues.

das/rc (AFP, Reuters)

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