France

French police hunt suspect after deadly attack at missionary retirement home

Gendarmes stand guard on a road near a retirement home for missionaries in Montferrier-sur-Lez after a hooded man wielding a knife murdered a woman.
Gendarmes stand guard on a road near a retirement home for missionaries in Montferrier-sur-Lez after a hooded man wielding a knife murdered a woman. Pascal Guyot/AFP

French police were hunting Friday for a man who burst into a retirement home for Christian missionaries in southern France and stabbed a 54-year-old worker to death, security sources said. 

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The man, brandishing a sawn-off shotgun and a knife, tied up and stabbed the woman in the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez near the city of Montpellier on Thursday 24 November.

A nurse called the police to inform them of the attack. When officers arrived they found one of her colleagues stabbed to death.

Armed police then searched the building to no avail. The killer had fled and was not found despite a huge police search operation overnight, backed by a helicopter.

Residents of the home "are elderly with an average age of 75, although some are older than 90," said Alain Berthet, a city official in Montferrier-sur-Lez.

Local prosecutor Christophe Barret told AFP that "there is no particular evidence about the motive" for the killing at the home, where more than 70 mostly former missionaries live.

Barret added that investigators probing the murder do not believe the killing was intended as a terror attack.

Police believe it is a "local" crime, not "Islamist terrorism".

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