Man Rams Van into Christmas Market in France

Guillaume Fouin, Reuters, December 23, 2014

A man ploughed a van into a crowded Christmas market in Nantes in western France on Monday, injuring at least 10 people in the country’s third violent attack in as many days.

The driver, who authorities said stabbed himself after the crash, and four people were badly injured, with one of the victims in critical condition, local officials said.

France is on high alert for attacks on its soil after calls from Islamist militants to attack French citizens and interests in reprisal for the country’s military strikes on Islamist strongholds in the Middle East and Africa this year.

Authorities called on people to keep calm and said the driver had made no religious or political claims, appeared to have acted alone, and likely suffered from mental illness.

A local newspaper first reported that the driver had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest” in Arabic), but witnesses told Reuters that he had not said it.

The incident occurred a day after a man rammed his car into crowds in the eastern city of Dijon, shouting “Allahu Akbar”. Thirteen people were injured. On Saturday, a man was shot after he stabbed and wounded three police officers in central France while yelling “Allahu Akbar”.

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Prosecutors said on Monday that the Dijon driver suffered from mental illness, had received psychiatric care over 150 times in the past 13 years and had no ideological motive.

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