Man shouts ‘Allahu akbar’ as he drives into French crowd

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From the Times and the French edition of The Local Photograph from Midi Libre

A man drove into a crowd of revellers gathered outside a bar in the southern city of Nimes in the early hours of Friday morning, slightly wounding two before hitting a security barrier and being arrested. He had aimed at a café terrace . . .The barriers were in place to prevent such attacks and prevented greater casualties, local security officers said. The two people injured were not in serious condition.

Local prosecutors said that the man was suffering from “relative mental confusion” and had been taken to hospital. 

Several witnesses told AFP that the man shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) during the incident a cry which has been uttered by jihadists during previous attacks.

A source close to the investigation said the man was not known to police for suspected radicalisation and reports suggest police do not believe the attack was motivated by terrorism. The region’s public prosecutor Eric Maurel said the suspect tried to flee but was caught and roughed up by the crowd.

The incident occurred on the eve of the city’s Feria de Nimes festival, a popular weekend festival featuring bull-fighting. An investigation has been opened into attempted murder.

The incident is the third in France this week in which men described as mentally disturbed have carried out public attacks.The incidents have prompted claims by rightwing politicians and on social media that the police are masking Islamist actions by treating perpetrators as mentally unstable. A national police report that was leaked to the media this week said that mentally unfit men were committing acts under the influence of Islamic State group propaganda. Nearly a third of the perpetrators of acts classified as terrorism suffered from psychiatric difficulties, the report said.

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