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One person dead as driver rams car into French pizzeria

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 14/08/2017
The incident reignited fears in France after a string of attacks in which a vehicle was the weapon of choice [Benoit Tessier/Reuters] © Provided by Al Jazeera The incident reignited fears in France after a string of attacks in which a vehicle was the weapon of choice [Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

A man who may have been trying to kill himself rammed his car into a pizzeria east of Paris on Monday, killing a 13-year-old girl and injuring her younger brother and at least 12 others, authorities said.

The driver was immediately arrested. Police said the man's actions in the town of Sept-Sorts were deliberate, but not thought to be "terrorism-related".

A French prosecutor says it is "highly probable" that the man was under the influence of drugs.

The 13-year-old girl and her brother were among the restaurant patrons eating on the outdoor terrace of Pizzeria Cesena when a man in a BMW accelerated toward them, an official with the national gendarme service told The Associated Press.

The girl died immediately, while the boy's injuries are considered life-threatening, the official said. At least three others were hospitalised in serious condition, and eight more sustained light injuries, said the official, who was not authorised to be publicly named.

The incident occurred on a warm summer's evening on the eve of a national holiday and witnesses said the outdoor eating area was busy.

READ MORE: Clichy-sous-Bois - A suburb scarred by 2005 French riots

The incident reignited fears in France after a string of attacks in which a vehicle was the weapon of choice.

An Algerian man drove his car into a group of French soldiers last week, and a truck attack in the French city of Nice left 86 people dead a little more than a year ago.

The man arrested in Monday's attack is thought to have tried to kill himself last week, French Interior Ministry Pierre-Henry Brandet said on BFM television.

Brandet said the man, born in 1985, was not known to intelligence or police. He did not identify him.

Two police officials said the incident is considered over and authorities are not searching for accomplices, but are trying find out what motivated the driver.

A judicial official said on Monday night that the Paris prosecutor's office, which oversees French terrorism investigations, was not involved in the case because there was no proof of terrorism at this stage.

A security official echoed that there was no evidence of a political motive.

The targeted pizzeria is in a shopping zone in the town of Sept-Sorts about 65 kilometres east of Paris near Champagne country. Police cordoned off a large perimeter of the area.

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