Three killed in France in shooting, supermarket hostage-taking

TREBES, France (Reuters) - Three people were killed in southwestern France on Friday when a gunman held up a car, opened fire on police and then took hostages in a supermarket, screaming "Allahu Akbar".

Police later stormed the supermarket in the small town of Trebes and Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Twitter that the attacker had been killed.

A source at the Interior Ministry said two had died at the hostage-taking in Trebes. "It is a provisional assessment as it could unfortunately get worse. Three people are wounded, including one of them seriously," the source said.

Later, a police union official said the attacker had also killed one person with a bullet in the head in the nearby historic town of Carcassonne before the hostage-taking.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the incident appeared to be a terrorist attack and security forces were securing the area.

29 PHOTOS
France supermarket hostage situation
See Gallery
France supermarket hostage situation
French gendarmes block the access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018 in Trebes, southwest France. At least one person was feared dead after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group fired shots in a hostage-taking at a supermarket in southwest France, police said. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018 in Trebes, southwest France. At least two people were killed after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group opened fire and took hostages at a supermarket in southwest France. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018 in Trebes, southwest France. At least two people were killed after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group opened fire and took hostages at a supermarket in southwest France. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Gendarmes of the French special unit GIGN are seen next to a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
A general view shows gendarmes and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A general view shows gendarmes and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
A general view shows rescue forces and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
A general view shows police officers and investigators at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Police officers and investigators are seen in front of a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, Police officers and investigators are seen in front of a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A general view shows rescue forces and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Police officers and investigators at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A general view shows gendarmes and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Police officers and investigators at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins, Police officers and investigators are seen in front of a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
A general view shows gendarmes and police officers at a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attend a videoconference in Paris with Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and officials after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe attend a videoconference in Paris with Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and officials after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Edouard Philippe arrive to deliver a speech in Paris after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Ministry of the Interior attended by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Director General of the Gendarmerie Nationale Richard Lizurey after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Interior Ministry in Paris attended by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Interior Ministry in Paris attended by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe after a hostage situation in a supermarket in the village of Trebes, in Paris, France March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer/Pool
#ArnaudBeltrame is the name & the face to remember today During the terror attack in a supermarket in #Trébes the… https://t.co/ToH2lf7M1O
Le lieutenant-colonel Arnaud Beltrame nous a quittés. Mort pour la patrie. Jamais la France n’oubliera son héroïsme… https://t.co/E5aGAWCQ0t
A French gendarme secures the access to a supermarket after a hostage situation in Trebes, France, March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier
Flowers and messages in tribute to the victim are seen in front of the Gendarmerie of Carcassonne, the day after a hostage situation in Trebes, France March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Flowers and messages in tribute to the victim are seen in front of the Gendarmerie of Carcassonne, the day after a hostage situation in Trebes, France March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Flowers and messages in tribute to the victim are seen in front of the Gendarmerie of Carcassonne, the day after a hostage situation in Trebes, France March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
Flowers and messages in tribute to the victim are seen in front of the Gendarmerie of Carcassonne, the day after a hostage situation in Trebes, France March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Eric Menassi, the mayor of Trebes, told BFM TV that the hostage-taker was now alone with one police officer in the supermarket and all other hostages were free.

The station reported that the hostage-taker has claimed allegiance to Islamic State and that he has demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam - the prime surviving suspect in the Islamic State attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.

A 45-year-old lieutenant-colonel swapped himself in exchange for one of the hostages, a source close to the investigation said later, confirming information first published by Le Figaro newspaper.

More than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks since 2015 by assailants who pledged allegiance to, or were inspired by, Islamic State.

COLD ROOM

First the gunman held up a car, killing one person and wounding another. Then he fired one police officers in Carcassone, wounding an officer in the shoulder before heading to Trebes about 8 km (5 miles) to the east, where two more died in the Super-U supermarket.

Menassi also told LCI TV that the man had entered the shop in Trebes screaming "Allahu Akbar, (God is greatest) I'll kill you all".

Carole, who was shopping at the supermarket, described how people had taken refuge in a cold room.

"A man shouted and fired several times. I saw a cold room door, I asked people to come and take shelter," she told Franceinfo radio. "We were ten, and we stayed an hour. There were more gunshots and we went out the back door."

French investigators believe they have identified the hostage-taker. The man is known to the intelligence services and flagged in a database of radicalized Islamist militants, Franceinfo reported.

Police in helmets and body armor took up positions around the Super-U supermarket.

The Paris prosecutor's office said counter-terrorism prosecutors were investigating the incident but did not comment on the possible Islamic State allegiance.

Earlier, the Interior Ministry had said security forces were carrying out an operation at a supermarket in southern France. Interior Minister Gerard Collomb was on his way.

The UNSA police union also said on Twitter a police operation was underway after an individual had earlier shot at four officers in the Carcassone region, wounding one of them.

(Reporting by Johanna Decorse in Toulouse, John Irish, Leigh Thomas, Emmanuel Jarry and Bate Felix in Paris; Writing by Ingrid Melander and David Stamp; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

Read Full Story