Police have shot dead a gunman who is believed to have killed three people, according to reports from the southern French town of Trèbes.
Believed to be Moroccan, the man is said to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State.
His attacks began in Carcassonne, 15 minutes drive from Trèbes, where he hijacked a car, injuring the driver and killing a passenger. He also shot and wounded a policeman who was jogging with colleagues.
On driving to Trèbes he took hostages in the town’s supermarket. He demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, suspected of being involved in the November 13, 2015 Paris attacks in which 130 people died. Abdeslam went on trial in Belgium in February over a separate incident and is not expected to face trial in France until at least 2020.
The Trèbes attacker was known to French security services, reports say. Earlier, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said that all signs pointed towards a ‘terrorist act’.
France has suffered several attacks from Islamist extremists, including the January 2015 attack on the Paris offices of the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine in which 17 people died.
In July 2016, two attackers murdered Fr Jacques Hamel by slitting his throat as he celebrated mass at his church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy.