French President Nicolas Sarkozy was briefly attacked by an assailant during a public appearance in southern France.

According to reports, while shaking hands with local residents, a man grabbed Sarkozy by the shoulder and attempted to yank him over a barrier in the town of Brax, near Toulouse.

The president temporarily lost his balance, but quickly recovered. Police officers immediately seized the assailant and pushed him to the ground.

Local police described the atttacker as a 32-year-old who lives in Lot-et-Garonne region and works in the theatre. He is being held in the nearby town of Agen.

His motives for the attack are unclear.

Sarkozy, who was visibly shaken by the incident, according to reports, was attending a meeting of mayors in the area.