Gunman killed after three shot dead in French attacks

Man takes hostages at supermarket in town of Trebes in suspected terrorist incident

Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes, France. Photograph: Reuters

Police are seen at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes, France. Photograph: 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.

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.

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

French prosecutor Francois Molins said one person had been arrested in relation to the attacks on Friday.

He also said the gunman had been monitored for radicalisation, but there was no indication of an imminent threat. The gunman has been identified as 26-year-old Redouane Lakdim.

A lieutenant-colonel swapped himself in exchange for one of the hostages, suffering life-threatening injuries in the process, Mr Macron later confirmed. “He saved lives.”

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

Mr 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”.

Police at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes. Photograph: La Vie A Trebes/via Reuters
Police at the scene of a hostage situation in a supermarket in Trebes. Photograph: La Vie A Trebes/via Reuters

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 10, and we stayed an hour. There were more gunshots and we went out the back door.”

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

An Irish woman who lives in Trebes, Leona Shanahan, described the town as peaceful and serene where “nothing ever happens”.

She said that there is a large Irish, English and Scottish community in the town, all of whom are very close and were checking on the welfare of everyone once word of the hostage situation spread.

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, also known as Isis. – Reuters