French officials have confirmed at least two people have died and one more is seriously injured in an ongoing hostage-taking at a supermarket in the town of Trèbes, near Carcassonne in southern France.
A major police security operation is under way in the town, after an individual earlier attempted to run down four police officers on their morning run near Carcassonne and then opened fire, injuring one officer in the shoulder.
The same individual, reported by local officials to have sworn allegiance to Islamic State, reportedly then drove to the supermarket in Trèbes and took up to eight people hostage. The armed man entered the busy supermarket at about 11am local time.
Anti-terrorism prosecutors have taken over the investigation and the French prime minister, Édouard Philippe, told French media “all the evidence so far suggests these are terrorist attacks”.
France’s interior ministry said two people had been killed in the ongoing hostage situation, and one person was seriously injured. Three others have been wounded, it said. Police have surrounded the branch of Super U and authorities have warned people to avoid the area.
The mayor of Trèbes, Eric Ménassi, told LCI TV that the man had entered the shop screaming “Allahu Akbar, I’ll kill you all”. The hostage-taker was now alone with one police officer in the supermarket and all other hostages had been freed, he added.
The interior minister, Gérard Collomb, was heading for the scene after talking with the president, Emmanuel Macron, who is following the situation closely, according to a security official.
The head of the local gendarmerie, Jean-Valéry Lettermann, said the situation was “not yet stabilised”, adding that “unfortunately, we expect to discover more victims”.