Three Chinese students injured when car rams crowd in France
Man planned car attack for months but authorities insist it was not ‘terror-related’
Three Chinese students have been injured after a man “deliberately” rammed his car into a group of pedestrians near the city of Toulouse in France on Friday, in an attack that the authorities said was not linked to terrorism.
The victims, all Chinese exchange students at the ICD-Toulouse International Business School and in their 20s, were hospitalised after the accident. All are now in a stable condition, Zhu Liying, consul general for China at Marseilles told state media.
A 23-year-old woman is receiving a surgery on her fractured shoulder tomorrow. Another woman suffered a fractured pelvis but did not need an operation, Zhu was quoted on China Central Television as saying.
The third victim, a man, was slightly injured. All are receiving psychological counselling from their school, he said.
The 28-year-old driver, who was arrested immediately afterwards in the city’s Blagnac suburb, “purposefully hit three people” on a pedestrian crossing, Toulouse prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau said.
The suspect, a single man who lives with his mother in Blagnac, had previously suffered severe psychiatric problems and was released from a court-ordered hospital stay in December 2016, Agence France Presse reported.
“What matters in this case is the psychiatric profile of the person,” he said.
“The individual arrested immediately after the event said he had been planning this act for a month,” the prosecutor said later in a statement.
When asked about the possibility the man was motivated by terrorism, the prosecutor said the attack was “nothing of that order”.
The driver has had about 10 previous convictions for non-terror related crimes, he said.
The investigation is to be handled by regular judicial police rather than Paris’s anti-terror unit, he said.
The victims are Chinese exchange students at the ICD-Toulouse International Business School.
The attack occurred in front of the Blagnac campus of the Institute for Social Research.
On Friday night, France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb praised the police’s response, saying “the investigation will determine the nature of his act”.
The attack came days after China asked France to “ensure the security” of its nationals, who have been regular victims of thieves.
On November 2, a group of around 40 Chinese tourists were attacked with tear gas and robbed outside a three-star hotel near Paris’s Orly Airport.
On Friday a youth, who was 15 years old at the time of the attack, was sentenced by a juvenile court to two years detention for violently killing a Chinese textile worker last year in a robbery in the Paris suburb of Aubervilliers.
France has also been the target of a series of vehicle attacks by extremists inspired by Islamic State.
In July last year, a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.