May 24, 2019 / 4:49 PM / 7 months ago

French police hunt suitcase bomber after blast in Lyon

LYON (Reuters) - 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 bag in front of a bakery shortly before an explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm, police sources and local mayor Denis Broliquier said.

Most of those hurt were hospitalized for treatment to leg injuries that were described as light.

President Emmanuel Macron characterized the incident as an “attack” when the news broke during a live YouTube interview ahead of Sunday’s European elections. “My thoughts are with the injured,” he said.

Paris anti-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation as police said they were treating the blast as an attempted homicide, and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner headed to the scene.

The partially masked suspect appeared in security camera footage wheeling a bicycle to the scene, before leaving a bag outside a branch of Brioche Doree, a popular bakery chain.

Police sources described the suspected attacker as a European or North African male, seen wearing beige Bermuda shorts, an army-green scarf or head wrap and dark glasses.

Soon after he left, the blast rained metal bolts on passersby in front of the premises on rue Victor Hugo, several blocks from the city’s main station, according to police.

Police forces across France have been instructed to increase security in public places and event venues, Castaner said.

Reporting by Catherine Lagrange in Lyon, Emmanuel Jarry and Marine Pennetier in Paris; Writing by Laurence Frost; Editing by Peter Graff

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