PARIS (AP) — A man drove his car toward a group of French soldiers out on a Thursday morning jog, but suddenly swerved to avoid hitting them, a prosecutor said, dismissing any link with terrorism.
After a brief police manhunt, a man and a woman were arrested in the Isere region, a police official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to media.
The official said that the woman, arrested in Echirolles, a suburb of Grenoble, in southeast France, was the owner of the car. The man was apprehended in his home in Grenoble.
No injuries were reported.
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“We are very clearly not dealing with a case of terrorism,” Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat said.
The man has a long record of petty crime with 25 convictions and was twice imprisoned for a total of four years. But he shows no sign of Islamic radicalization, Coquillat told reporters.
French authorities are on high alert after an Islamic extremist shot at police last week returning from jogging in southern France, before he took hostages in a supermarket in an attack that claimed four lives. Dozens of gendarmes encircled the area rafter the incident while the search for the suspect was on.
In the Thursday morning drama, at least four soldiers from the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade appeared to be targeted by the car, according the brigade’s chief Colonel Alain Didier.
But the prosecutor said the case needs to be “put in proper proportion.”
“The driver stopped near the soldiers and said, ‘I don’t give you 30 seconds on the avenue,'” then spoke in Arabic before turning his car in their direction, driving toward them, then suddenly spinning away, the prosecutor said. The man appeared to be in a rage, he added.
The suspect had initially driven around the military barracks in Varces-Allieres-et-Risset, shouting at various groups of soldiers before returning, French army spokesman Col. Benoit Brulon told The Associated Press.
Brulon said several of the soldiers were questioned by gendarmes in nearby Grenoble where a police inquiry has been opened.
Elaine Ganley contributed to this report.