8 wounded in France mosque shooting, not terrorism: prosecutor

Published July 3, 2017
Police officers work at the scene of a shooting in front of a mosque, in this still image from video, in Avignon, France July 3.— Reuters
Police officers work at the scene of a shooting in front of a mosque, in this still image from video, in Avignon, France July 3.— Reuters

Eight people including a girl were lightly wounded late Sunday in a shooting in front of a mosque in the southeast French city of Avignon, the prosecutor's office said, ruling out terrorism.

According to initial accounts taken on the spot, at least two men got out of a car around 10:30pm near the mosque and opened fire, including with a shotgun, the prosecutor's office said.

None of the wounded had life-threatening injuries, it said.

“From what we know this evening, the mosque was not targeted. The fact that it happened in the street of the religious establishment was unconnected with it,” the prosecutor said, ruling out terrorism.

Witness accounts mentioned four men in the car, all hooded.

The criminal investigation department has taken charge of the case.

The shooting comes a few days after a man on Thursday attempted to drive his car into worshippers outside the Creteil mosque in southeast Paris.

The driver, a 43-year-old Armenian who suffered from schizophrenia, hit barriers and pillars outside the mosque with his 4x4 without causing any injuries before crashing into a traffic island.

According to a source close to the investigation, the suspect had made “confused remarks in relation” to a string of militant attacks that have struck France, killing 239 people since 2015.

Following a van attack against worshippers leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in London on June 19 which left one dead and 11 injured, France's Muslim community has also felt threatened.

Some Muslim officials have described the Paris incident as an attack and called on the authorities to “strengthen protection of places of worship”.

The Paris police commissioner reiterated his orders for vigilance in protecting Muslim places of worship.

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