French police sniper accidentally shoots two during Francois Hollande speech
A sniper mistakenly fired his weapon during a speech by President Francois Hollande in south-western France on Thursday, slightly injuring two people.
Video footage of the speech in the town of Villognon – on the opening of a high-speed train between Tours and Bordeaux – shows Hollande stopping mid-sentence at the sound of gunfire about 17 minutes into his remarks.
“I hope it’s nothing serious,” he said, turning to look in the direction of the commotion.
“I don’t think so,” he concluded a few seconds later, returning to his speech.
According to Le Figaro newspaper, whose reporter was on site, the sniper was stationed under a marquee near where guests were to gather for a cocktail reception.
The sniper apparently belonged to the PSPG, an elite protection platoon, and had fired accidentally when he changed his position, Le Figaro reported.
The prefect of the Charente region, where Hollande was speaking, told reporters gathered for the speech that the victims’ injuries were not life-threatening.
“Their days are not numbered,” Pierre N’Gahane said of the victims, who were not identified. “We were able to talk with them immediately afterwards.”
N’Gahane said the local prosecutor’s office would launch an investigation.
Hollande’s speech comes towards the end of a five-year presidency rocked by terrorist attacks.
During his tenure, 230 people have been killed in attacks in Paris, Nice and elsewhere in the country.
In December, Hollande, a Socialist whose approval ratings had fallen to a historic low, made the highly unusual announcement that he would not seek re-election.