(CNN) — Two people have been killed and others taken hostage at a supermarket in the southern French town of Trebes, in what officials are treating as an act of terror.
The incident unfolded late Friday morning at a Super U supermarket, where the attacker opened fire. A spokesman for France’s Interior Ministry confirmed the deaths.
A local prosecutor said the attack appeared to be “ISIS-inspired,” CNN affiliate BFM TV reported.
The incident appeared to be linked to an earlier attack on police officers Friday, in which a man shot at four national police officers from a car in the nearby city of Carcassonne. The driver tried to ram the officers over as they were out jogging. Police later found the same vehicle at the Super U in Trebes.
Images from the scene showed police vehicles and security officers surrounding the supermarket. An employee who fled the supermarket as shots were fired. told BFM that he and around 50 others were in lockdown in the car park.
A BFM reporter at the scene said the attacker claimed to be an ISIS soldier and demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks. The attacks, in November 2015, were the deadliest on French soil in the country’s modern history.
CNN could not independently confirm the demand. Abdeslam’s trial opened in Belgium in February this year.
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.
French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb earlier said he was on his way to Trebes. He had been briefed by security forces and a security cordon has been established in the area, he wrote on Twitter.
“Avoid the area and stay tuned to the instructions from authorities,” Collomb added
France had faced a string of terror attacks in recent years, including the Paris attacks and several smaller-scale assaults.
President Emmanuel Macron is in Brussels and is expected to speak publicly later Friday.
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