France: suspect still at large after retirement home attack

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By Joanna Gill
France: suspect still at large after retirement home attack

A man hunt is underway for a masked gunman in southwestern France, suspected of killing a woman at a retirement home for Catholic missionaries.

  • one woman dead, stabbed
  • 60 residents taken to safety
  • police still actively searching for attacker
  • no motive established

One employee who managed to escape after being bound and gagged, raised the alarm around 10pm local time (Thursday night). After searching the building police found another employee (aged 54) stabbed to death, according to local media. Around 60 people were taken to safety following the attack.

The residence Chênes verts (“Green Oaks”) in Montferrier-sur-Lez, located 10km north of Montpellier, houses retired missionaries that had worked in Africa. It belongs to the Society of African Missions (SMA), a community of European, African and Asian Catholic missionaries which has around 1,000 members.

The local prosecutor for Montpellier Christophe Barret said there was no clear motive, but nothing indicated a terrorist act at this stage.

In France security has been stepped up at religious sites and other points of interest, following a wave of Islamist attacks over the past year.

A large police operation was still in place on Friday morning to find the suspect.

(with Reuters, AFP)