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Motorist Attacks Soldiers Guarding French Mosque

A French legionnaire patrols outside the Grand Palais museum near the Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, part of the reinforced security guarding gathering places around France, Dec. 30, 2015.

A man rammed his car into four soldiers guarding a mosque Friday in the southeast French city of Valence, and he was stopped when a soldier fired and wounded him, authorities said. The attacker's motives were unclear.

One soldier was slightly injured in the leg, and a passer-by was hit in the leg by a stray bullet, the interior and defense ministers said in a joint statement.

The man, who was not immediately identified, was arrested and hospitalized, according to the statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and Defense Minister Jean-Yves L Drian.

The attacker twice rammed his car into the soldiers guarding the main mosque in Valence, the mayor and a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said. The soldiers, some thrown to the ground, fired warning shots and one then fired to disable the driver, who was hit in the arm and leg, Mayor Nicolas Daragon told iTele TV.

The man's motives were being investigated. The secretary-general of the prosecutor's office, Frederic Ouiseau, told iTele that authorities must be "extremely prudent about the motive'' for the attack.

France is on high alert after the November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people. The soldiers involved in Friday's incident were part of the reinforced security guarding places of worship and other sensitive sites.

Daragon, the Valence mayor, said the incident occurred between two prayer services, and hundreds of people were at the mosque. Some were in the parking lot at the time.

"Even if this happened near a mosque, the target was the soldiers,'' the mayor said.