Police are hunting a driver who rammed his BMW into a group of French soldiers in western Paris, before speeding off.
Six of the dozen or so troops were injured – two of them seriously – in the attack in the Levallois-Perret suburb of the city, which is being investigated by counter-terrorism officials.
The attacker was waiting in the dark-coloured car in an alleyway before he drove at speed at the troops as they left their barracks to go on patrol at around 8am local time.
Nadia LeProhon heard the smash and came running out of her building to find two soldiers on the ground and other troops running after a vehicle shouting: “After him! Follow that car!”
Mayor of Levallois-Perret, Patrick Balkany, condemned the attack as “an odious act of aggression”, adding: “Without any doubt, it was a deliberate act.”
“It all happened very quickly. The vehicle did not stop. It hurtled at them… it accelerated rapidly,” he told broadcaster BFMTV.
Officers and soldiers secured the scene – situated around three miles from city centre landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower – as forensic teams combed the area for evidence and clues.
Investigators were also scouring through CCTV footage from the suburb, as police stopped motorists in the region as they searched for the attacker.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said it was “pursuing perpetrators on charges of the attempted murder of security forces in connection with a terrorist enterprise”.
It means authorities believe the attack was deliberate and planned with a terror-related motive.
The soldiers, who were taken to a military hospital, were on duty as part of Operation Sentinelle, created to guard prominent French sites after the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015.
Sky’s Europe Corrrespondent Mark Stone said: “It is a subject of intense debate in France whether Operation Sentinelle – soldiers on the streets, helping out the police force – exacerbates the situation and they themselves become targets because they are literally everywhere, not only in Paris.”