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French police arrest man they say drove car at jogging soldiers

French police have arrested a man suspected of driving a stolen car at a group of soldiers jogging outside their base in the foothills of the Alps, but authorities said the incident was not terrorism-related.

Authorities rule out terrorism, say 25-year-old man was known to them for petty crime

A police forensics van is parked outside the 7th CBA de Reynies mountain infantry military barracks in Varces-Allières-et-Risset, France, on Thursday after a man tried to ram his car into soldiers jogging nearby. (Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images)

French police arrested a man suspected of driving a stolen car at a group of soldiers jogging outside their base in the foothills of the Alps on Thursday, but authorities said the incident was not terrorism-related.

"This is quite clearly not a case of terrorism," Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat told reporters. "There was no religious talk, no 'Allahu Akbar' pronounced," he said.

The incident caused a flurry of alarm, coming days after an ISIS loyalist went on a rampage in southern France on Friday, killing four people — the first militant attack since President Emmanuel Macron lifted a state of emergency in November.

Soldiers had told police the driver first passed them shouting abuse in Arabic before returning and trying to run them down, according to a spokesperson for the army's land regiments based in the Isère region. No one was hurt in the incident.

"There were a good 10 of them jogging outside their barracks. He targeted one group of four, but none were hit," the spokesperson said.

The suspect was arrested in the stolen Peugeot 208 in Grenoble, about 15 kilometres north of Varces-Allières-et-Risset, where the incident took place.

Coquillat said the 25-year-old man was known to authorities for petty crime and had spent some time in prison. He was allegedly found drunk, passed out at the wheel of the car.

"There was no radicalization during this period, and this person was totally unknown to counterterrorism services," Coquillat said.