A man rammed his car into four soldiers guarding a mosque on Friday in the southeast French city of Valence, but was stopped when a soldier fired and wounded him, authorities said. His motives were unclear, but with France on high alert after the coordinated attacks in Paris on Nov. 13, determining what, or who, was behind the attack carried a sense of urgency. One soldier was slightly injured in the leg, and a passerby was hit in the leg by a stray bullet, the interior and defense ministers said in a joint statement. The man, who was alone in the car and not immediately identified, was arrested and hospitalized, according to the statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Defense Minister Jean-Yves L Drian.
The attacker twice rammed his car into the soldiers guarding the main mosque in Valence, the mayor and a spokesperson for the prosecutor's office said, charging once then putting his car into reverse to try to ram the soldiers again. The soldiers, some thrown to the ground, fired warning shots and one then fired to disable the driver, who was hit in the arm and leg, Mayor Nicolas Daragon told iTele TV. The man's motives were being investigated. The soldiers are part of the reinforced security guarding places of worship and other sensitive sites around France. The secretary-general of the prosecutor's office, Frederic Ouiseau, told iTele that authorities must be "extremely prudent about the motive" for the attack.