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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Driver runs down three students in France

Police arrest the driver immediately afterwards but say he is not on a list of known extremists

According to reports, a driver deliberately drove a vehicle into a group of students, injuring three in Blagnac, near Toulouse. The driver was arrested at the scene. Frederic Scheiber/ EPA
According to reports, a driver deliberately drove a vehicle into a group of students, injuring three in Blagnac, near Toulouse. The driver was arrested at the scene. Frederic Scheiber/ EPA

A driver has deliberately driven into a group of students in Blagnac, near the south-western French city of Toulouse, injuring three people.

The driver, a 28-year-old man, was arrested immediately afterwards but was not on a list of known extremists, according to a French police source quoted by AFP.

Speaking to news channel BFM TV, Toulouse prosecutor Pierre-Yves Couilleau, the suspect had previously suffered severe psychiatric problems and had been planning the attack for a month.

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"What matters in this case is the psychiatric profile of the person," he added.

"The individual arrested immediately after the event said he had been planning this act for a month."

The motive for the crime is not clear, although when asked whether terrorism might have been a factor the prosecutor said the attack was "nothing of that order".

The driver, who has 10 previous non-terror related convictions, was released from a court-ordered hospital stay in December 2016.

A 23-year-old woman was the most seriously injured following the incident outside a college. Two men, aged 22 and 23, were also hurt. They were all thought to be of Chinese origin.

Police said the woman’s life was not in danger.

The attack came a week after thieves targeted a group of around 40 Chinese tourists with teargas and robbed them outside a hotel in Paris.

China has asked France to “ensure the security” of its nationals, who are regularly targeted by thieves.

France has seen a number of vehicle attacks inspired by the Islamic State group. In July last year, a Tunisian man ploughed a 19-tonne truck into a crowd in the southern city of Nice, killing 86 people.