Explosion in French city of Lyon wounds at least 13, Macron calls blast ‘attack’
LYON: An explosion on a pedestrian street (Rue Victor Hugo) in the French city of Lyon has wounded at least 13 people, France's interior ministry confirmed on Friday.
French police were hunting a suspected suitcase bomber on Friday after an explosion in the central city of Lyon that injured 13 people, officials said. The suspect was captured on security video leaving a case in front of a bakery shortly before an explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm, police sources and local mayor Denis Broliquier said.
The area where the explosion occurred, on the narrow strip of land between the Saone and Rhone rivers in the historic city centre, has been evacuated, according to reporters at the scene.
Interior ministry officials initially said eight people had been injured, but police sources later put the number hurt at 13, with none of the injuries thought to be life-threatening.
The Paris anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation, with police treating the blast as an attempted homicide, law-enforcement officials said.
Kamel Amerouche, the regional authority's communications chief, said that the casualties suffered leg injuries. He said the explosion occurred in or outside a store of the bakery chain Brioche Doree.
President Emmanuel Macron, who was beginning a broadcast address as news of the explosion broke, described the incident as an "attack" with no fatalities, he said.
Macron, in his Facebook interview, said: "It's not for me to give a toll but it appears there are no fatalities. There have been injuries, so obviously I'm thinking of these injured and their families."
"An eight-year-old girl was wounded.... We're fairly relieved because apparently there were no serious injuries but on the other hand, we are certain it was an explosive device," said Denis Broliquier, mayor of the city's Second Arrondissement.
"There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash," said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 metres (50 feet) from the site of the blast.
"There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out," she said.
France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly terror attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.
"It's an area in the very centre of Lyon, a major street," the city's deputy mayor in charge of security, Jean-Yves Secheresse, told BFM television.
"These areas are highly secured, the police are continually present," as were patrols by soldiers deployed in a long-running anti-terror operation, he said.
Lyon is the third-biggest city in France. The population of the city plus its extensive suburbs is 2.3 million.
The most recent package bomb in France dates back to December 2007, when an explosion in front of a law office in Paris killed one person and injured another. Police never found who carried out that attack.