Security measures for police and other authorities have been stepped up after a driver said to be shouting “God is great” slammed into crowds in a French city, injuring at least 11 people and raising national concern as Islamic extremists call for attacks.
The government said the man’s motives were unclear but last night’s incident in Dijon, in eastern France, came a day after a knife attack on police in another town being investigated by anti-terror officers.
Police union official Michel Bonnet said some witnesses apparently heard the Renault Clio driver shout “Allahu Akbar” – God is great – and refer to the “children of Palestine”, but the ministry would not confirm that.
In an indication of how seriously the government is taking the incident, interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve will visit Dijon today.
The Interior Ministry said a 40-year-old man had been arrested over last night’s attack.
The Islamic State (IS) group and other terrorist organisations have repeatedly called for attacks against France, notably because of the military’s participation in US-led air strikes in Iraq.
Some extremists have specifically suggested that anyone angry at the French government could use weapons easily at hand – such as cars or knives – to stage “lone wolf” attacks.
Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said it was too early to say whether there was any connection between last night’s car attack and the knife attack in Joue-les-Tours in central France on Saturday.
In Saturday’s incident, two police officers were seriously injured and the attacker was killed.