NICE, France (Reuters) - Two French soldiers were wounded in a knife attack outside a Jewish cultural centre in the southern city of Nice on Tuesday, the interior ministry said.
One soldier guarding the centre was attacked by a man with a knife. Two other soldiers patrolling the area then intervened and one of them was also hurt. Both suffered slight wounds, one to the cheek and the other to the arm.
The attacker and a second man were arrested.
“It seems like a premeditated and quite violent act,” said regional police chief Marcel Autier.
“The person responsible, who is in his thirties and from the Paris region, is known to police,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
According to police, the man had been questioned by French security services after he travelled to Turkey on a one-way ticket in late January and was intercepted and flown back to Nice by Turkish authorities.
After militant Islamist attacks killed 17 people in Paris in January, French authorities introduced additional security measures including protection for Jewish institutions.
About 10,500 soldiers have been deployed across France in the operation.
Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice, told France Inter radio the attacker had just been stopped on a tram for travelling without a ticket.
“He paid his fine, but refused to show his identity papers. He got out suddenly near the soldiers and with a sharp knife struck the cheek of one and arm of another,” he said.
Reporting by Matthias Galante; Additional reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Andrew Roche