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Hostage situation turns deadly in France; authorities suspect terrorism

French gendarmes block an access to Trebes, where a man took hostages at a supermarket on March 23, 2018 in Trebes, southwest France. At least two people were killed after a gunman claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group opened fire and took hostages at a supermarket in southwest France. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC CABANIS (Photo credit should read ERIC CABANIS/AFP/Getty Images)

French police have raided a supermarket and killed a gunman, ending a standoff that lasted nearly four hours.

On the morning of March 23, an armed man took hostages in a supermarket in Trebes, France. He had reportedly declared himself to be a member of ISIS. The hostage situation began at around 11 a.m. local time and the gunman was reported to have been shot at around 3 p.m. local time.

The man opened fire from his car on four police officers who were jogging, hitting one of them in the shoulder, authorities said. He then drove to Trebes and went inside a Super U supermarket creating a hostage situation. Most of the hostages managed to escape, but a gendarme (an armed French police officer) was being held captive inside the building for hours. This gendarme was later wounded when police raided the supermarket.

Two people were killed in the supermarket, according to France’s interior minister. A representative from the police union confirmed that a third person had been killed in the nearby city of Carcassonne, France, the same town in which the four police officers had been shot at. Around 12 people have been injured, according to police.

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said that the police officer who was held captive “volunteered to swap his place with a hostage.” This officer then managed to leave his cellphone on, giving the police outside a way to hear inside the building.

French President Emmanuel Macron said in a press briefing that "everything leads us to believe it is a terror attack." Earlier, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe had said that this appears to be a "terrorist act."

The Paris Prosecutors office confirmed that they have started an anti-terrorism investigation, NBC News reports. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attack, although their statement gave no indication that they knew about it beforehand.

 

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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