Three friends who went outside to play a game of petanque were confronted by a man who had already stabbed seven people. Using what was available to them, the group stopped the attacker with the game’s hefty metal balls.
The group threw the balls at the attacker and also struck him with a wooden plank, bringing a halt to the incident that took place on Sunday night.
The attack, which took place on September 9th in Paris’ 19th district, left multiple people injured. Luckily, there were no fatalities. The attacker, who was among those taken to hospital for treatment, is now in custody. The police are trying to establish a motive for the attack.
Without the bravery of the three friends, authorities believe the attack could have been much worse. The area was filled with revellers from a popular cinema complex, tourists and families.
Luckily for everyone there, petanque player Boudjema Hamani and his two friends were on the scene and used what they had at hand to stop the attacker.
Petanque is a typically Gallic pastime which is played by some 20-million French. It is popular with the elderly, and does not have a reputation associated with danger, action or speed.
The friends, none of whom can be considered elderly, chased the attacker down the street. They pummelled the attacker, who officials believe is from Afghanistan, with the steel spheres used in petanque that can each weigh almost a kilogram. The group threw about 30 of these steel balls at the attacker as he tried to stab people with a 40-centimetre knife. At least one struck his head.
Hamani, who helped disarm and arrest the suspect, initially thought it was perhaps a brawl. "But some young girls and young boys ran toward us, telling us 'careful, careful, he has a knife,'" Hamani said.
Hamani and his friends threw their projectiles and anything else they could find at the suspect, until he lost his balance. Fellow petanque player Reda Smain then struck the suspect on the head with a wooden plank.
Smain was then able to pull the knife away and his friends subdued the attacker until French police arrived.
"I jumped on the knife, took it from his hand," said Smain. "Then I fell with him and knocked him out."
According to AP, the group of friends were lauded for their bravery. On Twitter, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb praised their "courage and reactivity."
Four of the victims are in a serious condition, one of them with life-threatening injuries.