Nantes: Driver ‘stabbed himself’ after crowd crash

Police in Nantes stand on the site where the driver of a van ploughed into a Christmas market injuring at least ten people before stabbing himself. Picture: Getty

Police in Nantes stand on the site where the driver of a van ploughed into a Christmas market injuring at least ten people before stabbing himself. Picture: Getty

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THE driver of a van that crashed into a Christmas market in western France, injuring 10 people, stabbed himself several times after the incident, police said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the driver “deliberately crashed into the crowd”.

Eleven people, including the driver, were injured in the incident, which occurred in the town of Nantes on a busy market full of holiday shoppers.

Mr Brandet told French television the driver is among five people seriously hurt.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve travelled to Nantes tonight to visit the victims.

Video images on French television showed a white Peugeot van in the market at the city’s main square.

French officials had called for vigilance but warned against jumping to conclusions after a pair of weekend attacks - one in which a driver ran down 13 bystanders in Dijon, and another in which a recent convert to Islam knifed police officers.

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The driver in Dijon, who had a history of psychological problems, was arrested following the attack in the city in eastern France, while the assailant who stabbed the officers outside the city of Tours was shot to death by police. None of the victims died.

The prosecutor in Dijon said the driver behind that attack has a long history of severe mental illness and no links to terrorism.

The man, who is 40, has admitted his role in the attack. He has been in hospital 157 times for psychiatric problems since 2001.

The French-born son of North African immigrants, he acted alone and had no religious motivation, but was upset at the treatment of Chechen children.

He shouted “God is great” to give himself courage to act, and not out of religious belief, it is understood.

The suspect was arrested. Eight people remain in hospital.

Counter-terrorist police are investigating the attack on police in a suburb of Tourson Saturday, which left two officers seriously injured and a third with light injuries.

The attacker, who was killed by police, was a 20-year-old from Burundi named Bertrand. Police believe he was drawn to radical Islam several years ago by his 19-year-old brother Brice, who has been detained for questioning by police in Burundi.

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