Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

Lyon explosion: Police hunt man after blast leaves 13 injured

A package bomb is suspected to have caused the explosion

French police on Saturday hunted a suspect believed to have deposited a paper bag containing a device that exploded Friday, wounding 13 people on a busy pedestrian street in the city of Lyon.

France's counter-terrorism prosecutor, Remy Heitz, said an investigation has been opened for "attempted murderer in relation with a terrorist undertaking" and "criminal terrorist association."

Mr Heitz described video surveillance that showed the suspect heading toward the centre of Lyon on a bike Friday afternoon. The man was seen arriving on foot, pushing his bike along the pedestrian-only Victor Hugo street, then leaving paper bag on a concrete block in the middle of the street near a bakery.

The package contained "screws or bolts,” according to police sources, and had been placed in front of a bakery near a busy corner of two popular streets.

The suspect is believed to be a European or North African male and was seen wearing beige Bermuda shorts, an army-green scarf or head wrap and dark glasses.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast.

French President Emmanuel Macron called the explosion an "attack" during a live interview Friday. The blast comes just days before the French people will head to the polls to vote in the EU elections.

Regional authorities said 13 people suffered mostly minor injuries but 11 were still in the hospital on Saturday morning.

Kamel Amerouche, the regional authority's communications chief said the wounded suffered leg injuries and none of the injuries were life-threatening.

Police issued an appeal for witnesses Saturday with a photo of the suspect from video surveillance. They described the man as "dangerous."

French National Police have released a wanted notice for a man who is a suspect in the bomb explosion. EPA
French National Police have released a wanted notice for a man who is a suspect in the bomb explosion. EPA

"There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash," said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 metres (50 feet) from the site of the blast.

"There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out," he said.

On Victor Hugo street, police removed their cordon around the explosion area and the atmosphere Saturday was almost back to normal with people doing their shopping — except for the chalk lines drawn by forensics on the ground.

Lyon is the third-biggest city in France. The population of the city plus its extensive suburbs is 2.3 million.

Local authorities said security has been enhanced in France's third-largest city, including with more police and military patrols.

The women's World Cup soccer tournament is scheduled to start in France on June 7 and Lyon will host the semifinals and then the July 7 final. After the explosion, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner sent instructions for Lyon authorities to strengthen security for "public sites and sporting, cultural and religious events."

* With Agencies

Updated: May 25, 2019 11:32 PM

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