2 killed in France supermarket hostage situation

Paris, March 23 : Two people were killed and some others were taken hostage by an armed gunman at a supermarket in a southern French town on Friday, in what officials are treating as an act of terror.

The incident unfolded in the morning at a Super U supermarket in Trebes town, where the attacker opened fire. A spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry confirmed the deaths, CNN reported.

Reports said the gunman pledged allegiance to the Islamic State terror group. Trèbes Mayor Eric Menassi told BFM TV that the gunman was now alone in the shop with one police officer, after other hostages were freed.

The incident appeared to be linked to an attack earlier in the day, in which a man shot at four police officers in the city of Carcassonne. The driver also tried to ram the officers over as they were out jogging. One of the police officers was injured.

The suspect, reportedly known to French intelligence services, was said to be heavily armed and asking for the release of Salah Abdeslam, the key surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, which killed 130 people.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter that all information about the supermarket attack pointed to “an act of terror”, while the Paris prosecutor’s office said it was opening an investigation into a “terrorist act”, as well as murder and attempted murder.

President Emmanuel Macron is in Brussels and is expected to speak later in the day.

France has been hit with several deadly terror attacks since 2015 and has been on high alert since. A state of emergency put in place after the 2015 attacks in Paris was lifted in October.

(IANS)

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