At least three people were killed and several others injured in France after a gunman, claiming allegiance to ISIS, opened fire and took hostages at a supermarket on Friday before being shot dead, officials said.
The suspect asked for the release of Salah Abdelslam, the prime surviving suspect in the November 2015 attack in Paris that killed 130 people, according to BFM-TV.
The attacker — reported to be a Moroccan national who was known to authorities — killed a butcher and a customer at a Super U store in the town of Trèbes, a security source told Agence France-Presse.
He was shot dead after police launched a raid on the store, according to BFM-TV.
Authorities were treating the incident in the medieval town of about 5,000 residents as a terror attack.
The suspect claimed allegiance to ISIS and opened fire, the local prosecutor’s office said.
Trèbes Mayor Eric Menassi told BFM that the hostage-taker was holed up in the store earlier with one police officer in the supermarket after freeing all the hostages.
A 45-year old lieutenant colonel swapped himself in exchange for one of the hostages, a source close to the probe told Reuters.
A dozen people were injured in the incident, officials said.
A little earlier, the same gunman was believed to have shot a driver in the head in the town of Carcassonne, about a 15-minute drive away, before stealing the person’s car to drive to Trèbes.
On the way, he also fired at four unarmed cops based in Marseille who were on their way back from jogging, said Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of SGP Police-FO police union.
One cop suffered a shoulder injury but it was not serious, Lefebvre said.
It was believed the attacker initially tried to run the officers over in a vehicle before opening fire, The Local reported.
“They threw themselves to the floor but one of them was hit in the shoulder,” a source told France Info radio.
According to French newspaper Le Depeche du Midi, the suspect was armed with one or more grenades and said he wanted to “avenge Syria.”
A witness said he also was armed with knives and a handgun, Le Figaro reported.
The suspect then went to the Super U supermarket in Trèbes, where he shot two people, Lefebvre said.
A witness named Karim, 55 told France Info radio: “I heard shots fired around 11:10 a.m. At that moment there were only a few gendarmes (military police) around but now there are between 200 to 300.”
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said all information suggested it “seems to be a terrorist act.”
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said he was heading immediately to Trèbes.
France has been on high alert since a string of extremist attacks in 2015 and 2016 that killed more than 200 people.
SOURCE: New York Post