The authorities have identified a gunman who took several hostages in a supermarket in the southern French town of Trebes, France's interior ministry has confirmed.
- Three people were killed and 16 injured
- The suspect has been killed by police, the French interior ministry confirmed
- A woman who was close to Lakdim and shared a life with him is taken into custody
The 26-year-old Moroccan-born attacker from the nearby city of Carcassonne, named as Redouane Lakdim, was known to authorities as a petty criminal but was not considered an Islamist threat, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said.
Lakdim was shot and killed by police. Prosecutor Francois Molins said a woman who was close to the suspect and shared a life with him was taken into custody on Friday.
Three people were killed and 16 injured in the hostage-taking, although a source at the interior ministry said that number could rise.
"It is a temporary assessment as it could unfortunately get worse. Three people are wounded, including one of them seriously," the source said.
One of the injured is a police officer who switched places with a captive and suffered life-threatening wounds.
The officer who offered to be swapped for a female hostage was identified as Arnaud Beltrame.
He managed to surreptitiously leave his phone on so that police outside could hear what was going on inside the supermarket.
A police official who was not authorised to be publicly identified confirmed the officer's identity.
Lakdim had screamed "Allahu Akbar" and shot at police before taking the hostages inside the Super-U supermarket.
Police in helmets and body armour took up positions around the supermarket before storming the premises and killing the gunman.
Eric Menassi, the mayor of Trebes, had earlier told BFM TV that Lakdim was alone with one police officer in the supermarket and all other hostages were free.
Mr Menassi also told LCI TV that the man had entered the shop screaming "Allahu Akbar, [God is greatest] I'll kill you all".
The station reported that the hostage-taker had claimed allegiance to Islamic State and that he has demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam — the prime surviving suspect in the Islamic State group attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015.
French President Emmanuel Macron said all evidence suggested the hostage-taking and shootings were a terrorist attack.
Shoppers hid in the cold room
More than 240 people have been killed in France in attacks since 2015 by assailants who pledged allegiance to, or were inspired by the Islamic State group.
Lakdim first shot at four police officers in the historic town of Carcassonne before barricading himself in the Super-U supermarket in Trebes, about 8 kilometres to the east.
A police union official said Lakdim had killed one person with a bullet in the head in Carcassonne before the hostage-taking.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the rampage.
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 10, and we stayed an hour. There were more gunshots and we went out the back door."
The UNSA police union also said on Twitter a police operation was underway after an individual had earlier shot at four officers in the Carcassone region, wounding one of them.