Three killed in French supermarket hostage-taking, shooting
Three people were killed in southwestern France on March 23 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.
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 of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and that he has demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam - the prime surviving suspect in the ISIL attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.
More than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks since 2015 by assailants who pledged allegiance to, or were inspired by, ISIL.
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 eight kilometers 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 10, 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.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said counter-terrorism prosecutors were investigating the incident but did not comment on the possible ISIL allegiance.