NICE- Two French soldiers were wounded in a knife attack outside a Jewish cultural center in the southern city of Nice today, the interior ministry said in a statement.

France introduced additional security measures including protection for Jewish institutions in response to militant islamist attacks in Paris in January which killed 17 people.

One soldier who was guarding the cultural center was attacked by a man with a knife. Two other soldiers patrolling the area intervened and one of them was also hurt. Both suffered slight wounds, one to the cheek, the other to the arm

The attacker and a second man were arrested. "It seems like a premeditated and quite violent act," said regional police chief Marcel Autier.

"The person responsible, who is in his thirties and from the Paris region, is known to police," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

About 10,500 soldiers have been deployed across France to beef up security. Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice told France Inter radio, that the attacker had just been stopped on a tram for not having paid for a ticket.

"He paid his fine, but refused to show his identity papers. He got out suddenly near the soldiers and with a sharp knife struck the cheek of one and arm of another," he said.