Car rams into soldiers near their barracks outside Paris
Vehicle took off after the incident, police say
Officers involved in shootout on motorway in northern France
Sources say one man was shot
Local mayor says it was 'without a doubt a deliberate act'
France has been in state of emergency since November 2015
French police shot and arrested a suspect in the ramming of six soldiers near Paris on Wednesday after a dramatic car chase.
Le Parisien newspaper named the driver in the suspected terror incident as Hamou B, a 37-year-old from Sartrouville in the north western suburbs of Paris.
At least 300 police were mobilised in the manhunt, which ended on a motorway in northern France, after what police said was a “complex and dangerous intervention”.
One police officer is understood to have been hit by a stray bullet.
The arrest, made on the A16 motorway in the town of Marquise, came after a driver of a BMW mowed down six French soldiers in Levallois-Perret, an upmarket suburb to the northwest of Paris. France’s counter terror unit took over the case late in the morning.
“A suspect has been detained and police are carrying out a raid at his home,” a spokesperson at the Paris police told The Telegraph.
France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed that the suspect was driving the same car that had hit the soldiers, but stopped short of saying whether the arrested man is believed to have been behind the attack.
France’s Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the attack had been carried out by “a man on his own”, adding that it was deliberate.
He added that the threat in France “remains extremely elevated”.
“This is the eighth attack against our security forces since January 2015,” he added.
Mr Collomb visited the wounded soldiers in hospital on Wednesday afternoon.
The incident occurred at around 9am local time after a BMW crashed into a group of soldiers who were coming out of the barracks.
Witnesses said the car was parked, apparently in wait, on a small road not far from the Town Hall.
"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.
Six soldiers were taken to a military hospital to the south west of Paris after the hit-and-run. Three of them are said to have sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. The other three have been released from hospital with minor injuries.
The soldiers, from the 35th infantry regiment, were taken by surprise in the collision and reportedly unable to give clear details about exactly what happened. They were in the middle of a changing of the guards at the time.
Local Mayor Patrick Balkany immediately told the French press that the incident was “without a doubt a deliberate act”.
Mapped: Attack on soldiers in Paris
He said the driver had been waiting for the soldiers to report for duty, then “accelerated very quickly the moment they came out”.
Defence Minister Florence Early said the incident marked a “cowardly act”, adding that “it did nothing to dent soldiers’ determination to work for the security of the French people”.
Mr Collomb shared his support for the soldiers via his Twitter account, and paid his respect to the 7,000 soldiers working for the Operation Sentinelle, which was brought in as part of France’s state of emergency that was launched after the January 2015 terror attacks in Paris.
It came just four days after Sentinelle soldiers arrested an 18-year-old with a history of psychological problems at the Eiffel Tower, in which he had brandished a knife and shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest). He told investigators he wanted to kill a soldier, sources close to the case told AFP.
France | Recent terror attacks 2012 - 2016
'Principal suspect' arrested, says French PM
France's prime minister says the "principal suspect" in a car attack on soldiers has been arrested.
Speaking to lawmakers, Edouard Philippe said the man was apprehended on a highway near Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France, and was driving the car used in Wednesday's attack, but gave no other details.
Philippe also said that despite a "high threat" against France, the government is sticking to plans to lift a 21-month state of emergency.
He insisted that a new government bill enshrining permanent counterterrorism measures would be enough to replace the state of emergency, imposed after deadly Islamic extremist attacks in November 2015. The bill is currently under parliamentary debate, ahead of an expected end to the state of emergency Nov. 1.
Police find BMW
The first picture of the car involved in the attack.
Here police officers and emergency workers stand next to a damaged BMW car with a broken windscreen, after the police arrested a suspect on the A16 motorway, near Marquise, northern France
Man shot in hunt for driver
More on the shootout from the French international news agency 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 a Paris suburb, security sources said.
The man, aged in his late 30s, was intercepted on a motorway north of the French capital in a vehicle used to drive into the soldiers, the sources said, asking not to be named.
Police 'involved in a shootout'
BFM TV reports that elite police have been involved in a shootout on a motorway in northern France and have made an arrest.
Driver 'intentionally targeted soldiers'
France's interior minister says that a driver intentionally targeted soldiers in a calculated car attack, and that authorities are still searching for the perpetrator.
Gerard Collomb told reporters that the attack near Paris Wednesday marks the sixth time that soldiers with the Sentinelle operation have been targeted.
He said that shows the importance of a new terrorism law permanently enshrining some aspects of the state of emergency in place in France since 2015.
Collomb and French Defense Minister Florence Parly visited injured soldiers at the Begin military hospital near Paris on Wednesday. Parly said they received "reassuring" news about three soldiers initially believed to be seriously injured. She did not provide further details on their conditions.
The ministers said the six soldiers hurt in the attack notably suffered injuries to the face, knees, hands and arms.
Police stop cars and drivers
French police are stopping cars and drivers in the Paris region as they search for an attacker who rammed a dark-colored BMW into a group of soldiers before fleeing.
A security official said Wednesday afternoon that authorities have carried out several stops but have not turned up a suspect or arrested anyone. Six soldiers were injured in the attack.
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner said "all means are mobilized to neutralize the person or persons who are responsible."
He said President Emmanuel Macron discussed the attack at a previously scheduled security meeting Wednesday and a subsequent Cabinet meeting.
Two police officials say that authorities are focusing on a hunt for a single attacker but can't rule out that others could have been involved in the attack in the Paris suburb of Levallois. The officials say that surveillance cameras at the scene captured images of the car's license plate and details they hope will help in the search. The officials were not authorized to be publicly named.
Witness heard screams of pain
A witness to a car attack on French soldiers is describing an ear-piercing scream of pain and troops chasing after a speeding car.
Nadia LeProhon was startled by a loud crash outside her building in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, and rushed outside to see two soldiers on the ground. Other soldiers ran after a speeding car, shouting "After him! Follow that car!"
She said the scream that followed the crash was still echoing through her head. "I'll never forget that scream - a scream of pain and distress," she told The Associated Press.
Resident Jean-Claude Veillant said he saw two uniformed soldiers prone on the ground when he came down to the entrance of his 13-story building.
"It was horrible," he said, adding that both soldiers appeared to be in bad shape and one of them was unconscious.
Police officials say the driver apparently ambushed the soldiers and rammed into them as they emerged from a building to approach their vehicles to start a new patrol shift.
Residents thought attack was an exercise
The Paris suburb where a vehicle rammed into soldiers is home to France's main intelligence agency and a staging point for soldiers assigned to protect prominent sites after recent attacks.
Residents of Levallois-Perret are so accustomed to seeing security forces that resident Roseline Bailleux thought Wednesday's attack was an exercise.
Bailleux, 67, was one of several people who said that the street where the soldiers were hit was nearly always thronged with soldiers.
She was woken in the morning by her husband, who had noticed a crush of ambulances and emergency vehicles.
"We thought it was an exercise," she said.
She said that area was popular with parents and their children but the attack happened when they weren't around.
She said she had been touched by several previous attacks, including the 2015 gun rampage at the Bataclan music venue in Paris - which was next door to where one of her children lived - and the 2016 Nice truck attack, which happened near where she used to live.
"I'm not going to stop walking through the park because of that. ... It can happen to anyone."
Counter-terrorism investigation opened
French counter-terrorism prosecutors have now opened their investigation into the attack, the Associated Press is has reported.
Defence minister: It was a cowardly act
French Defence Minister Florence Parly on Wednesday condemned a car ramming that injured six anti-terrorism soldiers in a Paris suburb as a "cowardly act".
The incident, described by police as deliberate, "does nothing to dent soldiers' determination to work for the security of the French people," she said in a statement.
Counter terror police not involved
Counter terror police are still not involved in the investigation as the manhunt continues, Le Parisien newspaper reports, writes Oliver Gee.
The paper reports that the soldiers were unable to give precise witness testimonies due to the speed at which events unfolded.
The soldiers were actually hit by their own vehicle, which had in turn been rammed by the BMW in question, Le Parisien adds.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo took to Twitter to share her support for the wounded soldiers.
“I hope with all my heart that their attacker will be quickly arrested,” she wrote.
Was the car crash deliberate?
More from Oliver Gee, in Paris:
The question that French media is asking is: Was the car crash deliberate?
The mayor of the Levallois-Perret said it certainly was. The police have refused to comment.
Television station BFM said there are three hypotheses: A terror attack, a complete accident, or a mentally unstable driver.
Witnesses have said the car was parked in a cul-de-sac before the incident and that the driver was alone.
The driver is understood to have ploughed into the soldiers during a changing of the guards on a side street.
Police are still currently chasing the driver and on the lookout for the BMW he was driving.
Soldiers hit were part of Opération Sentinelle
More details in from The Telegraph's Oliver Gee, in Paris.
The incident occurred at 8am Paris time (7am GMT). Some media saying 8.15am.
The soldiers were hit at Place de Verdun, a street not far from the Levallois-Perret Town Hall. The street has been cordoned off by police.
The two seriously injured soldiers were taken to a military hospital in Clamart, south west of Paris.
The soldiers hit were part of Opération Sentinelle that works for France’s State of emergency, which was brought in following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.