PARIS — A car rammed into a group of soldiers in a Paris suburb Wednesday in what the local mayor described as an “odious attack” that was “without a doubt” a “terrorist attack.”
Officials in the French capital described the BMW and its driver as “on the run,” after striking and injuring six soldiers as they left their barracks in the Levallois-Perret region of the city. Four of those hurt were described as suffering light injuries.
French counterterrorism prosecutors said they had opened an investigation into the incident, which means that authorities believe it was deliberate and planned with a terrorist motive.
Local mayor Patrick Balkany told NBC News: “Without a doubt this is a terrorist attack. He was not parked in an angle and he deliberately drove out to hit the soldiers,” he added, “we have about 66 CCTV cameras in the square and even more in the underground parking. We have the entire attack filmed on camera.”
A statement from the Paris Police Prefecture described the vehicle as being “on the run.”
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 and guard 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.
Nancy Ing reported from Paris. Alexander Smith reported from London.