PARIS – A man driving a van plowed into a crowd strolling through a Christmas market in Nantes in western France on Monday evening, injuring 10 people, an official at the local prefecture told Reuters.
Five people suffered serious injuries, including the driver, the official said.
According to local newspaper Ouest France, citing a police officer and witnesses on the scene, the driver of the white van shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic) and then stabbed himself with a knife.
The Christmas market was evacuated and secured by police, a Reuters witness reported.
On Sunday, French police arrested a man after he deliberately mowed down a dozen pedestrians in the eastern city of Dijon, badly injuring two of them and shouting “allahu akhbar” (“God is the greatest”).
The Dijon driver, in his forties, slammed his car into groups of pedestrians in five parts of the city before he was arrested and held for questioning, a spokesman for the Interior ministry said on BFM TV.
Eleven people were injured, two of them seriously, but their lives were not at risk, local authorities said.
According to testimonies on the scene, the driver also invoked “the children of Palestine” to explain his actions, the ministry’s spokesman said. He added that investigators had yet to determine what his motives were and whether he suffered from mental illness.
France is on high alert for attacks from Islamist extremists on its soil following calls from Islamic State (IS) militants to target countries taking part in the US-led coalition bombing IS positions in Iraq.