Three killed in France in shooting, supermarket hostage-taking
Gunman who pledged allegiance to Islamic State kills 3 people, wounds 16 in southern France; terrorist had gun, grenades and knives and shouted 'Allahu Akbar,' eye witness says; attacker shot dead as police storm supermarket where he was entrenched.
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.
BFM TV 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.
The attacker was known to authorities for petty crimes but was not considered an Islamist threat, Collomb said, adding that he was believed to have acted alone.
“He was known for petty crimes. We had monitored him and thought there was no radicalization,” he stated, before adding: “He was known for possession of drugs, we couldn’t have said that he was a radical that would carry out an attack.”
More than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks since 2015 by assailants who pledged allegiance to Islamic State or were inspired by the group. Islamic State claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack but offered no details.
The gunman at around 11 a.m. (6 a.m ET) first held up a car, killing one person and wounding another. Then he fired on police officers in Carcassonne, a town that is a UN World Heritage site and a major French tourist attraction. He wounded an officer in the shoulder before heading to Trebes about 8 km (5 miles) to the east, where two more died.
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.”
A 45-year-old lieutenant-colonel swapped himself in exchange for one of the hostages, Collomb said.
France is part of a U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and has thousands of soldiers in West Africa fighting al Qaeda-linked militants,
In February, Collomb said French security forces had foiled two planned attacks so far this year as Islamic State militants set their sights on domestic targets in response to the group’s military setbacks in Iraq and Syria.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the "cruel terrorist attack," stressing that "the civilized world must unite and work together to defeat terrorism" and offering his condolences to the families of the victims and the people of France.