Seven people claiming to be British were in custody in Paris on Wednesday in connection with an alleged attempt to murder a police officer guarding the Israeli Embassy by running him over.
The suspects — four women and three men, including two minors — told investigators they were born in London and were of Pakistani origin, French media reported. They had no passports and police are trying to establish their identities.
They were travelling in a BMW and a Mercedes with false number plates which were filmed speeding towards the policeman, who managed to jump out of the way at the last moment, narrowly escaping injury.
The cars drove away after the incident on Monday night, but the faces of six of the suspects were clearly visible on footage from surveillance cameras outside the well-guarded embassy.
Police launched a manhunt across Paris and arrested the six people filmed in the cars and a seventh suspect who was not in the cars. The two minors were described as being in their late teens.
The incident came amid tensions in France following the beheading of a schoolteacher by an 18-year-old Chechen refugee last week after he discussed controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class about free speech.
The cars had false number plates but bore an emblem which a police source said was that of a movement known as ‘Hit and Run’, movement which encourages motorists to run over police officers.
The suspects are being investigated for “the attempted murder of a person in public authority”, prosecutors said on Wednesday. The crime carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
An attempted murder inquiry has also been opened into a knife attack on two Muslim women near the Eiffel Tower on Sunday, prosecutors said.