PARIS: A car smashed into a pizza restaurant east of Paris late on Monday (Aug 14), killing a girl, but investigators said the young driver had tried to commit suicide and the incident was not terror-related.
The driver deliberately targeted the diners, said a local prosecutor who announced he was ruling out terrorism and opening a murder investigation.
"There is no doubt that he voluntarily decided to create what happened," prosecutor Eric de Valroger told reporters at the scene of the incident, in the town of Sept-Sorts, 55km east of Paris.
No weapon was found in the vehicle, the prosecutor added.
Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet told Reuters the driver was a "depressive" aged 32 and described him as an unstable character.
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.
A photograph published on social media showed a gray BMW car surrounded by upturned tables in the outdoor seating area of a restaurant. Reuters could not immediately verify the authenticity of the image.
Brandet said five victims were being treated in hospital for life-threatening injuries. Eight others suffered minor injuries and seven were treated for shock.
"Everyone on the terrace was hit," one witness told BFM TV.
The man, who was arrested, said "he had tried to kill himself yesterday (Sunday) without success and decided to try again this way," a source said.
In Paris, interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said the fatality was a girl aged 12, and not aged eight as initially reported. Four people were seriously hurt, after a preliminary figure had been given of six.
The driver, born in 1985, "is not known to the intelligence services and has no criminal record," Brandet said.
One of the four was the girl's younger brother, police said.
Earlier, the public prosecutor's office in the town of Meaux said investigators believed the act was "deliberate ... but apparently has no connection with a terrorist act."
France is on edge after suffering a string of terror-related attacks, including the use of cars as weapons.
On Aug 9, six soldiers were injured after they were hit by a rented BMW in the western Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. A BMW was also involved in Monday's incident.
The suspect, a 36-year-old Algerian man, was later shot and wounded after a dramatic motorway chase.
The death toll from militant attacks in France has exceeded 230 since January 2015.
The country has been under a state of emergency since the Islamic State group attacked in Paris in November 2015, leaving 130 people dead.