1 dead as vehicle rams bus stops in Marseille, France

Posted at 5:42 AM, Aug 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-21 09:50:26-04

A van rammed into two bus stops about 5 kilometers (3 miles) apart in the French port city of Marseille on Monday, killing one person and injuring another, police officials said.

The driver of the van, arrested in a third location, was a 35-year-old from the Grenoble region in eastern France who was being treated for psychological problems, an official at police headquarters said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with French law enforcement practice.

The anti-terror prosecutor has not so far stepped into the case, meaning there was no obvious initial sign that it was an extremist attack.

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The incident came just days after back-to-back van attacks in Barcelona and Spanish resort town of Cambrils killed 14 people.

The driver was arrested in the scenic Old Port area of France’s second-largest city, said David-Olivier Reverdy of the Alliance police union. BFM-TV said a witness noted the license plate of the van and was able to give it to police, allowing them to make the arrest.

A man was injured at the first bus stop in a working class northern district filled with housing projects, and the woman, reportedly in her early 40s, died when the van rammed into a second bus stop in another district, Reverdy said. The glass sides of the shelter where she’d been standing were smashed and shards of glass were scattered about.

Reverdy said it was too early to blame the incident on terrorism, but “given the times” it could not be excluded out of hand.

The regional newspaper La Provence reported that the suspect came to Marseille specifically for psychiatric treatment in a specialized institution. The paper did not name its sources and the police official could not confirm the report. The paper also reported that the van had been stolen Monday before the assaults.


Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.