An attacker believed to be armed with a hunting rifle opened fire on a tourist bus travelling on a motorway in south-east France yesterday, injuring six people including a child.
The bus was carrying 75 Czech tourists, some of them schoolchildren, and was heading from Spain to the Czech Republic when the shooter struck, the BBC reported. One tourist suffered a serious eye injury from broken glass.
The BBC report quoted Alex Perrin, a prosecutor in France’s Drome region, saying that two shots smashed the front and rear windows. The gunman or sniper was stationed on a bridge over the A7 motorway abut halfway between Lyon and Marseille, he said.
Police squads have since been deployed on all bridges crossing the A7 motorway.
While Perrin said there was no reason to believe the bus was specifically targeted, the incident follows terrorist atrocities in France and Belgium. Just days ago, it was announced that police had thwarted a plot by Islamist terror group Isis to launch a suicide bombing and shooting attack on a tourist precinct in the German city of Düsseldorf.
MEANWHILE, police on the Poland-Ukraine border have arrested a Frenchman who was allegedly plotting to attack the European Soccer Championship, which starts this week. Reports say his vehicle contained 125 kilograms of TNT explosive and an arsenal of weapons including rocket launchers, grenades and AK47 self-loading assault rifles.
The suspect is reportedly a right-wing nationalist with a hatred of mass immigration, globalisation and the spread of Islam into Europe. According to London’s Sun newspaper, neighbours of the suspect (who comes from a small French village) described him as a “polite and pleasant lad”.
The Euro 2016 soccer tournament kicks off in France this Friday and is set to run for a month (until 10 July 2016). The US State department recently named the event as a potential terrorist target. State Department officials issued a travel advisory alert on terrorism, covering the whole of Europe and valid for the entire Northern Hemisphere summer travel season, until the end of August.
Written by Peter Needham