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Assailant Grabs French Leader Sarkozy in Crowd

The Associated Press
Thursday, 30 Jun 2011 | 9:16 AM ET

A man in a crowd yanked French President Nicolas Sarkozy by the shoulder Thursday and nearly knocked him to the ground before being tackled by security officers and detained.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy
Getty Images
French President Nicholas Sarkozy

The unusually aggressive incident occurred as the president shook hands with a crowd in the town of Brax in southern France.

The man's identity and motives were unclear. French police said the man was detained and being held in the nearby town of Agen.

Images broadcast on French television showed Sarkozy reach over a metal barricade to greet onlookers, when an arm grabbed his suit roughly by the shoulder and pulled it toward the crowd.

Sarkozy started to lose his balance and fall, then immediately recoiled and righted himself. Security officers pulled the assailant to the ground.

Sarkozy's office would not immediately comment on the incident.