Police Storm French Market, Kill Hostage-Taker

March 23, 2018 11:57 AM

Officers have stormed a supermarket in southern France and killed a suspect who took hostages there.

French counterterrorism prosecutors have taken charge of the investigation into the ongoing incident Friday in the town of Trebes.

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French national police earlier said at least two people were killed and a dozen wounded in the incident.

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the shooting and hostage-taking in southern France, saying the attack was carried by one of its "soldiers."

The IS-linked Aamaq news agency quoted a security official as saying that "a soldier of the Islamic State" carried out the attack in response to calls to target "countries of the coalition."

It was referring to the U.S.-led coalition that has been carrying out airstrikes against IS in Syria and Iraq since 2014. France is part of that coalition.

Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of the SGP Police-FO union, said the suspect earlier fired six shots at police officers who were on their way back from jogging near the city of Carcassonne Friday morning.

One police officer was injured in the shoulder but is not in life-threatening condition, Lefebvre said. The police officers, based in the southern city of Marseille, were on a temporary mission in Carcassonne, he said.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said all information suggests the incident "seems to be a terrorist act."

Authorities in the Aude region are warning people to avoid the area around the supermarket. French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Interior Minister Gerard Collomb to go to the site.

A customer in the supermarket in southern France that was taken over by a gunman describes the assailant as a "very agitated man shouting several times "Allahu akbar!"

Christian Guibbert told reporters "we heard an explosion, well, several explosions. So I went to see what was happening and I saw a man lying on the floor and another person, very agitated, who had a gun in one hand and a knife in the other one."

Guibbert said he had sought shelter with his wife, sister-in-law and other customers into the butchery's refrigerator. Then he went back into the supermarket's main room and walked toward the assailant, calling police and describing the situation.

He says the suspect "ran after me." Guibbert escaped out an emergency market door as elite police forces arrived to storm the building.

Credits

The Associated Press

(Copyright 2018 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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