Woman killed in attack on retirement home in France, manhunt underway

At least one person has been murdered after an armed man stormed a retirement home for monks in Montpellier, France, on Thursday evening. Special police units cleared the building, but the suspect remains at large.

The suspect apparently fled the missionaries’ retirement home after fatally stabbing a woman. The victim is believed to be the concierge who lived on the ground floor of the retirement home. A police source told Reuters that the woman contacted authorities before she was stabbed.

The attacker, armed with a shotgun and a knife, entered the three-story nursing home compound at around 9:45pm local time. After the alarm was raised, police and rescue units arrived at the scene.

A special intervention unit of the gendarmerie, the PSIG-Sabre, swept the premises. After inspecting all the floors of the property and its basements, the officers did not find the suspect, who was reportedly wearing a hoody.

Nursing home residents, some of whom are over 90 years old, were rescued and evacuated to safety, AFP reported.

The motives of the attacker remain unknown. 

The attack had “no link whatsoever to Islamic terrorism,” French public prosecutor Christophe Barret said, adding that a manhunt for the suspect is still underway at a news conference, according to Reuters.

"For now, there is only one victim," Montpellier prosecutor Christophe Barret told AFP. "At this stage, there is no particular information on the motive of the crime.”

The nursing home belonging to Society of African Missions (SMA) was established in 1994 and is administered by Les Chenes Verts association.

The mayor of the town of Montferrier-sur-Lez, Michel Fraysse (LR), told AFP that 60 former missionaries to Africa, as well as six or seven lay people, live at the home.

France, which remains under a state of emergency following the horrific November 13, 2015, attacks in Paris which left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded, already suffered an attack on a clergy member earlier this year.

In July an 84-year-old Catholic priest was murdered by two Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) attackers during morning mass at the parish church in Saint Etienne-du-Rouvray, a suburb of Rouen.