A police sharpshooter accidentally fired his weapon during a speech by French President Francois Hollande and two people were slightly injured.
Pierre N'Gahane, regional prefect of Charente region, said the incident occurred while Mr Hollande was inaugurating a new fast train line in the western town of Villognon.
Speaking to journalists near the scene of the incident, Mr N'Gahane said the gendarme, or military police officer, was located on a high spot, "his regular position," when his weapon was fired.
Asked if the sharpshooter fired accidentally, Mr N'Gahane responded: "Yes, without doubt."
He said two people were slightly wounded, each in one leg. "We were able to discuss with them immediately afterward," he said.
On a video of the speech posted on the Twitter account of the Elysee Palace, Mr Hollande is seen speaking on a platform in front of an audience when suddenly a sound resembling a shot is heard.
Mr Hollande briefly stopped speaking, looked in the direction of the noise and quietly said he hoped it was nothing serious, then that he did not think it was, and resumed his speech.
The incident occurred shortly before the end of the 20-minute speech. His speech was interrupted less than 20 seconds.
Mr N'Gahane said a judicial probe has been launched under the supervision of the local prosecutor.
An administrative inquiry will also be carried out and the gendarme will have to give an account of what happened, he said.