Following a wild car chase in northern France, police shot and wounded a man who they believe made have carried out an attack on French soldiers in Paris on Wednesday. A bullet-ridden BMW sedan was seen on a motorway northwest of Paris, where the suspected terrorist was arrested on Thursday. One police officer was injured during the operation on the A16 motorway near Boulogne, in the town of Marquise. The suspect is a man who was born in 1980, who resides in the Yvelines district. He has been identified by the press as "Hamou Benlatreche." There are reports that he is of Algerian origin.

On Wednesday, six soldiers were wounded when a car drove at them alohg a pedestrian causeway near their base on the Place Verdun in the Levallois-Perret district of the French capital. In Paris, a prosecutor called the attack an "attempted killings... in relation to a terrorist undertaking."

Ever since November 2015 and a series of terrorist attacks since then, France has been under extraordinary security, while army units patrol in cities throughout the country. France is one of the several nations contributing to rid Iraq and Syria of the so-called Islamic State terror organization. A state of emergency has reigned in France since the 2015 attack when 130 people were killed in a night of carnage in Paris, and more than 100 have been killed in jihadist attacks since. 

There have been numerous assaults on military and security forces in several areas of the country. The most recent attack heretofore happened just four days ago.

Last Saturday, a young Muslim man cried “Allahu akbar!” as he tried to force his way into the Eiffel Tower with a knife. He told police that he wanted to kill a soldier. In June, police shot a man who attacked an officer with a hammer outside the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris, while in April, an attacker shot dead a policeman on the Champs-Elysees. The assailant, later named as a convicted criminal, Karim Cheurfi, a Muslim. was shot dead by security forces. In February, a man armed with a machete attacked a security patrol at Paris's Louvre Museum.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party, released a statement about the attack:

"This morning in Levallois-Perret, 6 soldiers of Operation Sentinel were cowardly attacked by a driver who seemed likely to want to harm their lives. Our thoughts go to these wounded soldiers and their loved ones. The military, like our policemen and gendarmes, are now regularly targeted by terrorists. Attempts to carry out attacks are occurring at a pace that is accelerating dangerously. The situation deteriorated so much that in a few days, in the middle of summer, two attempts were made at the Eiffel Tower and then at Levallois-Perret. These attacks intervened after those of Notre-Dame and the Champs-Elysees. It's unbearable.

"In the short term, there is an urgent need to reflect on how to protect the military from Operation Sentinel. In this context it is unacceptable that the government drastically reduce the Defense budget as our armies intervene on multiple grounds abroad and are actively mobilized by Operation Sentinel. Conversely, it must be increased strongly.

"More generally, it is time to take the gigantic problem of Islamist terrorism at its root. The government does not intend to act, nor does the government. It is the angelicism and laxity that prevail, when strong decisions should be taken in many areas: re-establishing national borders, expelling foreign S files, closing radical mosques, are just some of the urgent measures to be taken."

A member of Le Pen's party, Antoine Baudino, went to Twitter to ask about Benlatriche's presence in France: "Why is he still here?"

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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