A knifeman who stabbed a policewoman, stole her pistol and then went on the run in France has been arrested after a shootout with gendarmes.
The man was detained somewhere near the city of Nantes on Friday afternoon after launching his attack inside a police station in La Chappelle-sur-Erdre around 10am.
He initially attacked a policewoman aged in her 40s, repeatedly slashing her in the legs and arms before taking her gun and fleeing the scene.
Several hours later, he got into a shootout with gendarmes, hitting one in the hand and another in the arm before he was shot and arrested.
The policewoman suffered a potentially life-threatening injury to the thigh, while neither of the gendarmes is serious hurt, according to French media.
The suspect is in a serious condition. Police described the man as being in his 40s and having a history of psychiatric problems, but did not give more details.
A knifeman who stabbed female cop in a police station in La Chappelle-sur-Erdre in western France on Friday morning has been arrested after a shootout with gendarmes
Officers say the man – believed to be in his 40s – repeatedly stabbed the woman in the legs and arms, stole her service weapon, and then fled the scene
It follows a series of similar attacks across France, including a female police worker who was killed by an Islamist knifeman in the Paris suburb of Rambouillet last month.
Friday’s attacks saw the man ‘slash the woman officer several times with a knife inside the police headquarters,’ according to a local police spokesman.
‘The man then grabbed the officer’s pistol and fled the scene,’ the spokesman said.
240 officers, including members of the elite GIGN armed response unit, have since been mobilised to search for the attacker.
Local residents have been told not to leave their homes, and students have been locked down inside schools.
The wounded officer, who has not been named, was rushed to hospital with a ‘very serious thigh injury which could be life threatening,’ said the source.
Witnesses said they saw the attacker get into a VW Golf after the attack, but then crashed the car, got out and fled on food.
The attack happened in La Chappelle-sure-Erdre, a commune close to the city of Nantes
Several hours after the initial stabbing, the man got into a shootout with gendarmes – slightly wounding two before being shot and left in serious condition
Police say the suspect has a history of psychiatric issues, but have not said why he was in the police station or given any clue as to his motive
‘He was brandishing the pistol taken from the police officer he stabbed,’ said the town hall spokesman.
Heavily armed GIGN officers were leading the manhunt, along with police and gendarmes, and a helicopter had been deployed, the spokesman added.
There was no initial clue as to the knifeman’s motives, said the police spokesman.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted after the attack that ‘I refuse to accept this is our daily life’, adding: ‘We must finally fight this barbarism and never, absolutely never get used to it.’
French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he is going to the scene of the attack with state secretary for young people Sarah El Haïry to oversee the operation.
It comes after a series of such attacks including in Rambouillet last month in which a 36-year-old immigrant from Tunisia stabbed a policewoman to death and was subsequently shot dead by police.
Other attacks have included the beheading of schoolteacher Samuel Paty by a Russian-born terrorist in October last year.
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted after the attack that ‘I refuse to accept this is our daily life’ and ‘we must finally fight this barbarism’
The deadliest single terrorist attack ever in the country came in November 2015 when 130 people were killed in Paris.
Suicide bombers pledging allegiance to ISIS targeted the Stade de France, cafes, restaurants and the Bataclan music venue, where 90 died.
Earlier in the year, two Paris-born gunmen linked to Al-Qaeda broke into the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, leaving 12 dead and 11 wounded.
In July 2016, 86 people were killed and more than 400 injured when a 19-tonne truck was deliberately driven into crowds on the seafront promenade at Nice, in the South of France.
The terrorist turned out to be a radicalised Tunisian immigrant who was shot dead by police.
During the same month, two Isis terrorists murdered an 86-year-old Catholic priest during a church service in Normandy.
There have been frequent knife attacks on the forces of law and order, leading to the deaths of serving police.
In October 2019, a radicalised computer operative working at the Paris Prefecture in central Paris stabbed four of his colleagues to death.
The attacker – who was also shot dead – turned out to be a Muslim convert who kept extremist Al-Qaeda and Islamic State literature and images on his computer.