On a sunny Sunday afternoon, young boys ate ice cream and looked on with pride as they watched their fathers perform mock hostage liberations and antiterrorist operations, sweating in their camouflage outfits and firing blanks from smoking machine guns as if it were for real.
And then it became tragically real.
During the last of six military show exercises at the Laperrine military barracks in southern France, one soldier used live ammunition and wounded 17 people, most of them members of families of the military staff, said Colonel Philippe Tanguy, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry.
...."It is incomprehensible how this could have happened," Tanguy said. "The question everyone is asking is: How could he have had real ammunition on him during an exercise?"
The shooter, a 28-year-old sergeant whose identity had not been disclosed, was arrested and was being questioned Monday. According to the state prosecutor in the regional capital of Montpellier, Brice Robin, the sergeant said he had loaded his assault rifle with a magazine of live cartridges by mistake.