Hunt underway for driver who tried to ram French soldiers

Paris - A hunt was underway Thursday for a man who tried to ram his car into soldiers jogging near their barracks in southeast France, without causing any injuries, the army said.

The man first threatened a group of soldiers who were out jogging at around 8am in Varces-Allieres-et-Risset, near Grenoble, and later tried to run down another group of soldiers returning from a jog, army spokesman Colonel Benoit Brulon told AFP.

"The soldiers managed to get up onto the pavement without being hit," Brulon said.

The driver then sped off.

The local Dauphine Libere newspaper said the man is suspected to have been driving a stolen Peugeot 208.

Police sealed off the area and began a search for the driver, while the army stepped up security around the barracks, Brulon said.

The incident comes with France on edge after a jihadist rampage in the southwest last week, where a 25-year-old radicalised gunman killed four people, including a policeman who took the place of a hostage in a supermarket siege.

On Thursday, the four victims of the attack in the town of Carcassonne and nearby Trebes, including the heroic officer Arnaud Beltrame, will be laid to rest in the region.

Paying tribute to Beltrame at a national ceremony in Paris on Wednesday, President Emmanuel Macron said his act of self-sacrifice would "remain etched in French hearts".

Radouane Lakdim, a Moroccan-born French national, had started his shooting spree by firing at a group of policemen returning from a morning jog in Carcassonne, injuring one of them.

Over 240 people have been killed in a series of jihadist attacks around France over the past three years, and the security forces have been targeted on several occasions.

In April 2017, a policeman was shot dead while on duty on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Four months later, a man rammed his car into a group of soldiers on anti-terror patrol in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret, injuring six people.