A gunman has been shot dead by French police after killing three people and wounding three others in a series of events that ended in a hostage situation in a supermarket.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb confirmed Friday afternoon that the attacker was 26, had acted alone and was known to authorities for petty crime and possession of drugs.
The assault started at 10.30 a.m. local time (5.30 a.m. ET) when the perpetrator killed one person with a shot to the head and injured another while stealing a car near the town of Carcassonne in south France, Collomb said.
The gunman then shot at a group of police officers, injuring one, before entering the Super U supermarket in the nearby town of Trebes at approximately 11 a.m., where he took several hostages.
Collomb said that security forces shot the gunman dead after storming the supermarket. Two people were killed in the store, he said.
The minister praised a lieutenant-colonel in the national gendarmerie for an "act of heroism" in exchanging places with a hostage inside the supermarket, NBC News reported.
The Islamic State militant group (ISIS) later claimed responsibility for the attack, but provided no evidence, Reuters said.
Speaking in Brussels while the situation was ongoing, French President Emmanuel Macron said the situation appeared to be of a terrorist nature and that he was to return to Paris this afternoon.
French media reported that the gunman had claimed allegiance to ISIS.
- Graham Smith contributed to this report.