From Yahoo! News:
CARCASSONNE, France (AFP) - - French officials were probing Monday an incident that left 17 people injured, including a child in critical condition, when soldiers used live rounds in a weekend visitors day display.
Fifteen civilians, including five children, and two soldiers were injured on Sunday when members of a marines parachute regiment demonstrated a hostage liberation exercise to visitors at their barracks outside the southwestern city of Carcassonne, regional officials said.
Four of the 17 were seriously injured, two critically, but doctors said early Monday that the condition of the worst injured had stabilised.
Hospitals in the southern cities and towns of Toulouse, Narbonne, Montpellier and Perpignan, as well as Carcassonne, were treating the injured.
One soldier, described as experienced with no history of behavioral or psychological problems, was detained following the incident.
Military and civilian investigators immediately opened probes into the events at the Third Marine Parachute Regiment barracks.
France's Defence Minister Herve Morin traveled to Carcassonne on Sunday evening to visit the injured.
"I have ordered an immediate inquiry ... to determine as quickly as possible the circumstances of this tragic incident," he said.
"One way or another something went wrong .... This type of incident is very rare and incomprehensible. There are procedures in place to prevent this kind of thing," he told journalists.
The minister said security measures were respected and that the soldier who fired the live rounds had an exemplary record.
"Security regulations were respected a priori ... use of blanks requires a distance of at least 10 metres (31 feet) from the public and the public was more than 10 metres away," said Morin.
"According to initial findings of the inquiry, the incident involved a soldier with a perfect record, who had participated in operations and had seven to eight years of experience. There is nothing that would make one think he had behavioral or psychological problems," he added.
The senior official for the Aude region where Carcassonne is located, Bernard Lemaire, said that investigators believed the deadly ammunition was loaded by mistake.
"The question being asked is 'Did the soldier engage in a criminal act or not?'," Lemaire said. "For now, no one can answer that, but the theory being worked on is one of error."
Monsieur Lemaire, I can damnwell guarantee you that it was an error - an error of judgment! Who the hell thought it was a good idea to point a firearm at others, even if he/she was absolutely convinced it wasn't loaded with live rounds? You never, EVER do that!
The Four Rules of Firearms Safety, as codified by the legendary, late Col. Jeff Cooper, are very simple:
1. All firearms are always loaded.
2. Never point the muzzle of a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.
If the soldier(s) in question had observed Rule #2, this wouldn't have happened. If every firearms owner observes the Four Rules at all times, no-one will ever be injured due to the negligent discharge of a firearm.
It really is that simple. Someone either wasn't properly trained in firearms safety, or ignored his/her training. Result: seventeen injured, two critically.