At least 11 people were wounded Sunday when a motorist rammed his car into a number of crowds in the city of Dijon in eastern France.
The driver was arrested by police after targeting passersby at five different locations in the city, a police source said.
The driver, who authorities believe to be mentally unstable, was heard shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) and “that he was acting for the children of Palestine,” a source close to the investigation said.
“The man, born in 1974, is apparently imbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospital,” the source told AFP, adding that “for now his motives are still unclear.”
The source said nine people were lightly injured while two more were severely wounded.
The incident was reminiscent of a series of vehicular attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank over November that left several dead and over a dozen injured.
The car-ramming in France came only one day after a knife-wielding French convert to Islam was shot dead following an attack on three police officers.
Bertrand Nzohabonayo was killed Saturday after entering a police station in the central town of Joue-les-Tours armed with a knife, seriously wounding two officers — slashing one in the face — and hurting another.
“The investigation is leading towards an attack … motivated by radical Islamist motives,” said a source close to the probe, speaking on condition of anonymity.
BREAKING PHOTO: Scene in France where driver shouting 'Allahu Akbar' run over 11 pedestrians. pic.twitter.com/5eG2rja3Cq
— Breaking News (@NewsOnTheMin) December 21, 2014
The assailant, a French national born in Burundi in 1994, cried “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) during the assault, added the source close to the probe, which is being carried out by anti-terror investigators from the Paris prosecutor’s office.
On Thursday, Nzohabonayo posted the Islamic State flag as his profile picture on a Facebook page identified as his by several experts on jihadist groups.
The two attacks come on the heels of another jihadi-inspired attack in Australia last week, when an Iranian-born Islamist with a history of extremism and violence entered a cafe and held people hostage for 16 hours before being killed. Two of the hostages were killed as well.
Last year in France, a recent convert to Islam also stabbed a soldier in the busy Paris commercial complex and transport hub of La Defense.
The main suspect in the murders of four people at Brussels’ Jewish Museum in May, Mehdi Nemmouche, spent more than a year fighting with extremists in Syria.
Authorities in France believe around 1,200 nationals or residents are involved in one way or another in jihadist networks in Iraq and Syria.