PARIS — The police in France responded on Friday to what the prime minister called a “serious situation,” after receiving reports that a gunman had opened fire and possibly taken hostages at a supermarket in the southwest of the country, the authorities said.
According to French news reports, an armed man entered a Super U market in Trèbes, claiming to be acting on behalf of the Islamic State group, but his connection to the militant group was unclear. The Paris prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism cases nationwide, said that a terrorism investigation had been opened, but it did not elaborate.
“Shots were heard, a man appears to be holed up in a supermarket, probably with hostages,” Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said from the eastern city of Mulhouse. “A police operation is underway.”
France continues to be on high alert after deadly terrorist attacks struck the country in 2015 and 2016, mainly in Paris and Nice.
Although there have not been any large attacks since the attack in Nice in July 2016, there have been several smaller-scale assaults by lone individuals, and the French authorities regularly announce that new plots have been thwarted.
The Interior Ministry said on Twitter that a police operation was underway in Trèbes, about 50 miles southeast of Toulouse. The local prefecture said on Twitter that the area around the Super U in that town had been cordoned off.
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