Three hurt in vehicle attack near Toulouse
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Three hurt in vehicle attack near Toulouse

Wounded are Chinese students; police say driver acted 'deliberately,' was not on a list of known extremists

Illustrative: Police gather around the apartment building where Mohammed Merah barricaded himself in Toulouse in March 2012. (AP/Bruno Martin)
Illustrative: Police gather around the apartment building where Mohammed Merah barricaded himself in Toulouse in March 2012. (AP/Bruno Martin)

TOLOUSE, France — A man rammed a vehicle into three Chinese students near the French city of Toulouse on Friday, leaving one of them in a serious condition, police sources told AFP.

The driver, who was arrested immediately afterwards in the city’s Blagnac suburb, acted “deliberately.” He was not on a list of known extremists, one source said, asking not to be named.

France has been victim of a series of vehicle attacks by extremists inspired by the Islamic State group, but there was no immediate confirmation of the driver’s identity or motive.

The BFM news channel said the man was known to police for previous non-terror crimes and officers were checking reports he suffered from major psychological problems.

All three of Friday’s victims were in their twenties, with a 23-year-old woman the most seriously injured and two men aged 22 and 23 also hurt. The first reports from the scene suggested two of them had been seriously injured.

In July last year, a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.

Five years ago in Toulouse, an Islamist terrorist killed four people, including three children at a Jewish school in a killing spree that also included the murder of three soldiers several days prior.

On March 22, 2012, Mohammed Merah, a self-described al-Qaeda sympathizer who had traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, shot dead a teacher, Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, and three Jewish schoolchildren — Sandler’s two young sons, Arieh and Gavriel, as well as 8-year-old Miriam Monsonego — at the Otzar Hatorah Jewish school in the city before fleeing on a motorcycle.

Merah also killed three soldiers in Toulouse and nearby Montauban in the nine-day killing spree. He was shot dead by police at his hiding place two days after the school massacre.

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