Wednesday 13 December 2017

Police baffled as unidentified gunman still on loose in Paris

A CCTV image of the alleged gunman believed to have run riot through Paris
A CCTV image of the alleged gunman believed to have run riot through Paris

Henry Samuel, Paris

FRENCH Police have released a photograph of the gunman believed to be behind a carjacking and two shootings in Paris, including one at the 'Liberation' newspaper that has left a young photographer in a critical condition.

The photo of the man – thought to be aged 35-40 in a beige hat, glasses and a red jacket – is a still from CCTV footage taken by cameras on Paris' RATP public transport network.

As well as shooting a 23-year photographer in the lobby of 'Liberation', the gunman opened fire outside Societe Generale bank headquarters in La Defense business district and hijacked a car, leading to a major police operation around the Champs-Elysees.

Officers have also been posted outside major Paris news outlets and at entrances to underground train stations.

Despite the hunt, the gunman is still at large and has "still not been identified", police said.

A source close to the investigation said police had received around 400 calls following an appeal for information from the public, of which around 120 were "taken seriously" and being followed up.

Interior minister, Manuel Valls said forensic experts had taken DNA traces from "the car (that he hijacked) and on gun cartridges" and that "a lot of work has been conducted in the past few hours on this individual's DNA". The man's motive remains unclear, but police believe he was also behind an incident on Friday in which staff at a Paris television station were threatened by an armed intruder.

The attacker, wielding a 12-gauge shotgun, opened fire at the offices of left-wing newspaper 'Liberation' at about 10:15am on Monday.

A young photographer arriving for his first day of freelance work there suffered wounds to the chest and stomach. He was taken to hospital in critical condition. The newspaper later said he underwent surgery and was being kept in intensive care.

Nicolas Demorand, news director of 'Liberation' said yesterday that the man was "still critical", although he was "in a slightly better state".

Inside the paper, an employee described the moment the gunman walked in.

"The guy pulled out a gun from his bag and fired twice at the first person he saw. It lasted no more than 10 seconds, and anyone of us could have been hit. The shooter said nothing and left immediately," the staff member said.

Philippe Antoine, the editor-in-chief of BFMTV, came face-to-face with the attacker during Friday's incident and said he appeared calm and determined.

"This was someone who was very precise in his movements," Antoine said.

After fleeing the daily's offices in the east of Paris, the same man is believed to have crossed the city to the La Defense business district on its western edge, where he fired several shots outside the main office of the Societe Generale bank. No-one was injured.


He then reportedly hijacked a car and forced the driver at gunpoint to drop him off close to the Champs-Elysees.

The 65-year-old motorist told police the man told him he had "just got out of prison, was prepared to go all the way and said he had a grenade" in his bag, according to a judicial source.

"It's possible he then took an RER (overground train) at the Pont de l'Alma but we're not sure," said the source. "We lost track of him there and after that we're not sure of anything."

Francois Hollande, the French president, warned yesterday that the gunman "could still kill tomorrow or at any time". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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