An armed supermarket hostage-taker who claimed allegiance to Islamic State has been shot dead by police after killing three people in attacks in southern France.
The gunman – said to be a Moroccan national in his 30s known to the intelligence services – held up a car in Carcassonne on Friday morning and killed the driver, before opening fire on police and taking hostages in a supermarket in nearby Trebes.
The hostage-taker reportedly shouted Allahu Akbar as he burst into the Super U store. He is said to have demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the prime suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks.
Police confirmed at least two people – thought to be a shop worker and customer – have been killed and a dozen more injured. Around 50 people fled the supermarket, but a police chief warned the casualty toll is likely to rise, saying: “We are unfortunately expecting to find more victims.”
Shortly beforehand, the same gunman is believed to have shot a driver in the head in Carcassonne, before stealing their vehicle to drive to Trebes to carry out the supermarket assault. A police officer jogging with colleagues was shot and injured in a drive-by attack that is believed to be linked.
According to French media, the supermarket hostage-taker claimed he is inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The man “entered the Super U supermarket at around 11.15am and shots were heard,” a French security source said. He is said to have been armed with a gun, knives and a hand grenade.
“We unfortunately presume one person has been killed, but we cannot bring a doctor on site to check,” Jean-Valery Lettermann, the regional police chief, added.
Describing the situation as “serious”, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said officials “believe that this is a terrorist act”.