France: ‘Package bomb’ explosion on Lyon street injures at least 8

More than a dozen were injured in a suspected package bomb explosion on a pedestrian street in the heart of Lyon, southeast France on Friday, May 24, just two days ahead of the country’s hotly contested European Parliament elections.

The regional prefecture’s office said the initial toll was eight people lightly injured. Police said eight people had been injured but that none of the injuries appear to be life-threatening.

“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.

The injury toll was later updated to 13, with 11 people taken to hospitals.

The country’s justice minister, Nicole Belloubet, told BFM television it was too soon to say whether the blast was a “terrorist act”.

The anti-terrorism section of the Paris prosecutor’s office has begun an investigation. The office has jurisdiction over all terror cases in the country.

A police source told AFP the package contained “screws or bolts” and had been placed in front of a bakery on the corner of the two popular streets.

Le Progres reported that the package was believed to have been filled with nails, screws and bolts, and was placed on Rue Victor-Hugo where it exploded at around 5:30 p.m.

A man apparently in his early 30s who was spotted near the scene shortly before the attack was being sought by police, a source close to the inquiry said. Broliquier said the suspect sought by police had been seen on video surveillance cameras.

Police later issued an appeal for witnesses on Twitter. An image of the man, wearing light-coloured shorts and a longsleeved dark top, was posted. He was described as “dangerous.”

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 AFP journalists at the scene.

President Emmanuel Macron described the Lyon blast as an “attack” during a live Facebook interview, adding that no deaths had been reported “for the time being.”

“It’s not for me to give a toll but it appears there are no casualties. There have been injuries, so obviously I’m thinking of these injured and their families,” Macron 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.

With reporting from AFP. This is a developing story.

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