A gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State is believed to have killed at least one person Friday during a hostage-taking at a supermarket in the south of France, according to reports.
Here’s what we know so far about the unfolding situation:
- A gunman entered a Super U supermarket in Trèbes, a small town near Toulouse, at about 11.15 a.m. local time Friday, and shots were heard, AFP reported. Hundreds of police officers have been deployed to the area in response.
- The gunman claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, the local prosecutor's office said, and authorities are treating the situation as a suspected terrorist incident.
- According to French media reports, the gunman is of Moroccan nationality. French newspaper Le Depeche du Midi reported the gunman is about 30, armed with one or more grenades, and said he wanted to “avenge Syria.” Le Figaro reported he was armed with knives, a handgun and several grenades.
- The regional police chief, Jean-Valery Lettermann, said they believe there is one fatality so far. “We unfortunately presume one person has been killed, but we cannot bring a doctor on site to check,” he said. Some media outlets are reporting the death toll at two.
- The gunman is believed to be alone inside the shop with a single police officer, after having released a number of other hostages, according to the mayor of Trèbes, Eric Ménassi. He said that the dead man was the supermarket’s butcher.
- The hostage-taking is one of two incidents security forces are responding to. A policeman was also shot and wounded while jogging with colleagues Friday morning in the town of Carcassonne, a 15-minute drive from the supermarket. It is unclear if the two incidents are linked.
- More than any other Western country, France has borne the brunt of jihadist attacks, from the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015, the coordinated ISIS attacks of November that year that left 130 dead, and the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice that killed 84 people. In the most recent incident, two women were stabbed to death at Marseille railway station in an attack claimed by ISIS.
Cover image: French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018 in Trebes, southwest France. (ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)