Worshippers at a mosque in eastern France have said carnage was narrowly averted after a man deliberately drove his car into the masjid shortly before maghrib prayers on Saturday evening.
The man, 39, rammed into the Grand Mosque of Colmar without causing casualties or injuries, except to himself. He is currently in hospital and his motives remain unknown.
Authorities said that around 7.10 pm on Saturday the driver deliberately crashed into the gate of the mosque enclosure, and then the double door of the prayer room. He then got out of his car but “was quickly neutralised” by people coming to the mosque.
The prosecutor of Colmar said: “He was partly covered with blood on the upper part of the white tunic he wore” and “a bloody knife was found on the scene of the arrest.” The prosecutor added that several witnesses heard him say “Allah Akbar” many times.
The man was born in Grenoble and has no major criminal history. His home was searched but nothing incriminating was discovered there.
Officials say that he has not yet been evaluated by a psychiatrist but at first glance he seemed to have psychiatric problems.
“We were very lucky, a quarter of an hour away, it could have been a carnage,” because about 60 people had to arrive for the prayer, explained Naji-Said Darir, former President of the Grand Mosque of Colmar.
The Regional Council of the Muslim Faith of Alsace issued a statement which said they “condemn with the strongest firmness this unspeakable act against a place of worship… We trust the judicial authorities will shed light on this terrible event.”