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Gunshot Rings Out As France's President Hollande Speaks

A gunshot was heard near the spot where French President Francois Hollande was speaking Tuesday, momentarily disrupting his inauguration of a new line in France's high-speed train system. Local media are reporting that the shot was mistakenly fired by a police sniper. The shot left two people wounded.

Hollande was nearly 17 minutes into his roughly 20-minute speech when the loud crack of gunfire was heard. While there was no sign of panic, the leader was also plainly uncertain of what had just happened.

You can watch the video here — the shot is heard at the 16:50 mark, and this clip begins about 10 seconds before that point:

Discours d'inauguration de la Ligne à Grande... by elysee"I hope that it's nothing serious," Hollande said, looking off to the side of the stage where he heard the shot. He then paused for several seconds to take stock of the situation.

"I don't think so," the president concluded, raising a hand to assure those in the audience. He then launched back into his speech, discussing the merits of a rail project to take passengers between Bordeaux and other parts of France.

The errant shot was fired by a police sniper who was positioned on a roof as part of the security plan for the event, the Sud Ouest news outlet says, citing a local prefect in Villognon, the town in Charente the president visited today. The officer fired while adjusting his position, prefect says.

Two people — a waiter who was there with the catering crew, and a worker who's employed by the train line — were wounded by the bullet: one whose calf was grazed and another who was shot in the leg, Sud Ouest says. Their injuries were not serious, the news outlet adds.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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