At Least 1 Killed In Hostage Standoff In Southern France
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
An attack in southwest France appears to be over. Earlier today, an armed man burst into a supermarket in a small town and threatened to kill everyone inside. Police eventually stormed that supermarket and killed the gunman, we are told. We're going to work through a timeline of events because that supermarket incident was one of several incidents that appear to be related. Jake Cigainero is helping us out with this. He joins us from Paris. He's a reporter. Hi, there.
JAKE CIGAINERO: Hi, Steve.
INSKEEP: What happened first?
CIGAINERO: Well, so police are investigating three separate incidents that are believed to be linked. Allegedly, it all started with a carjacking this morning when a gunman attacked a driver in the area. He killed the passenger, and he took the car. And then not long after that, a group of four policemen in civilian clothing on a morning jog were attacked. And one of the officers was shot in the shoulder, and the gunman fled the scene.
Now, that officer - his injuries weren't critical, but he is being treated at a local hospital. And then finally, a gunman stormed the local supermarket where at least two people are believed to be dead. The local mayor said that most of the people inside were able to flee though.
INSKEEP: OK, so three different incidents. And is it thought that it's the same gunman in each incidence, or is that not known?
CIGAINERO: It's not known, but the investigators are looking into the links between these three separate incidents.
INSKEEP: OK. And how did it end?
CIGAINERO: Well, so the local police are saying that - the authorities are saying that the police stormed the supermarket and shot the assailant to death.
INSKEEP: OK, so let's go back through this. We've got these three incidents. They may or may not have been all linked to the same person. You have the assailant, at the end, being shot to death. Did this man, or men - I guess we should allow for the possibility that it's more than one person. Did a suspect, at any point, give an indication of why they were attacking?
CIGAINERO: Well, allegedly, the attacker had claimed allegiance to ISIS. The local mayor told French media that he entered the supermarket yelling Allahu akbar and that he was going to kill everybody.
INSKEEP: Allegiance to ISIS - how was that declaration made exactly?
CIGAINERO: In his declare - in - whenever he entered the supermarket saying...
INSKEEP: Oh, so...
INSKEEP: So he's saying Allahu akbar. He's saying God is great. But he apparently said something else about ISIS, at least according to the mayor of this town.
CIGAINERO: That is not known. That is - the mayor just said that he had claimed allegiance to ISIS. And, Steve, this is being treated as a terrorism case. The prime minister said it's very serious. Emmanuel Macron said it is clearly terrorism and that the prosecutor had opened an anti-terror investigation.
INSKEEP: Emmanuel Macron, of course, the president of France. And we should just underline here this is, at this moment, incomplete information. And even in trying to figure out how he would have declared allegiance to ISIS, we understand how much is not known and that what we think are facts may well change over time. But all of this happens in a context in which France has been attacked a number of times in very high profile ways in recent years. How are people responding to this incident?
CIGAINERO: Right, Steve. Well, the large-scale attacks started in 2015, and the French were very resilient with the attack on Charlie Hebdo at the beginning of that year. But then in the November attacks on the Bataclan, the attacks really affected the public spirit in Paris and in France. And recent attacks have actually been more targeted on police and security forces. The interior recently said it had uncovered and foiled several plots. So the French investigators have sharpened their anti-terror initiatives.
INSKEEP: OK. Jake Cigainero in Paris, thanks very much.
CIGAINERO: You're welcome, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.