At least three people have been killed after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Daesh terrorist group fired shots and took hostages in southern France.
An Interior Ministry source said two people had died at the hostage-taking incident at a supermarket in Trebes on Friday.
“It is a provisional assessment as it could unfortunately get worse. Three people are wounded, including one of them seriously,” the source said.
The incident in Trebes took place after the man “entered the Super U supermarket at around 11.15 a.m. and shots were heard,” a security source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Later, a police union official said the attacker had also killed one person with a bullet in the head in the nearby town of Carcassonne before the hostage-taking.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the situation in southern France is “very serious.”
He added that one police officer has been injured in the attack.
According to BFM TV, the supermarket attacker was shot down after French police launched a raid.
The hostage-taker in Trebes had asked for the release of Paris November 2015 attacker Salah Abdeslam, BFM TV said, citing an anonymous source.
French President Emmanuel Macron said the hostage-taking incident in southern France appears to be a terrorist attack.
If the link to Daesh is confirmed, the attack would be the first major incident since the election of Macron in May last year.
The Friday incidents occurred at a time when France is still on high alert after a string of attacks since 2015.
On January 7, 2015, two Takfiri militants attacked Charlie Hebdo magazine, killing 12 people, including top editorial staff. The attack was largely believed to have been launched over the weekly’s insulting cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).