Intrusion army in a retirement home for religious Aude GENET / AFP
An important feature of research was deployed in the night from Thursday to Friday in the south of France to find a man suspected of killing an employee of a retirement home for religious.
Shortly before 0200 GMT, a helicopter flew over the area by illuminating the ground with a wide beam of light to track down the man who broke, hooded and armed, on Thursday evening in the retirement home “The Oaks”, an institution for the women and men religious belonging to the Society of african Missions (SMA), located in Montferrier-sur-Lez, near Montpellier.
“In the status of the investigation, there is no evidence to characterize the motivations” of the killer, told the press the public prosecutor of Montpellier Christophe Barret. The terrorist hypothesis is at this stage not preferred, has also advanced a source close to the investigation, while France is struck for nearly two years by a wave of attacks jihadists unprecedented. These attacks have left 238 people dead, including a priest killed in a full mass at the end of July in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen.
According to the first elements, a little before 21: 00 GMT on Thursday, “a single individual, encagoulé and armed with a knife and a rifle, sawed, broke into the retirement home”, said sources close to the investigation, stating that its motivations were for the time being “unknown”. The profile of the man was not known in the immediate future.
“Around 22: 00 (21: 00 GMT), a woman working in this retirement home has called the police, saying they have been attacked by a man,” said Mr. Barret. This woman –an employee of the establishment, tied up and gagged, but was able to free up to give the warning, according to a source close to the record– was found by the police “safe and sound, but very shocked,” added the magistrate.
On the other hand, another woman has been found dead by the police on their arrival, added the prosecutor, without saying how it had been killed. A source close to the investigation stated to the AFP that after having it tied up, the man killed with a knife the other employee.
The special unit of the gendarmerie deployed on site has searched the building until 23: 30 GMT. A device of research has been put in place by the police to find the assailant on the run.
All boarders free
Previously, fifty-nine residents of the settlement had been placed in safety. “The police have ensured the integrity phyique and the presence of all of the residents,” said Mr. Barret: “none of them has been injured or damaged, (…) all residents are free”.
“Our prayer rises this night for the one who has lost life in the attack on a retirement home for religious, reacted on Twitter to the secretary-general and spokesman of the bishops’ Conference of France, Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas. “Our prayer goes also to the missionaries attacked (…). That God gives to all his peace”, he added.
This retirement home located near Montpellier, is an institution for the women and men religious belonging to the Society of african Missions.
sixty missionaries of Africa as well as six or seven lay people and six or seven nuns are welcomed, according to the mayor of Montferrier-sur-Lez Michel Fraysse.
To 01: 00 GMT, fifteen vehicles of the police and the gendarmerie, and about a dozen fire department vehicles were stationed a few hundred metres away from the establishment, has found a correspondent of the AFP.
A large safety perimeter was deployed around the facility, extending to several hundred metres, including up to a small artisanal zone on the edge of the road that leads to Montpellier.
The elite units of the police and the gendarmerie were also on site.
The Society of african missions is a community of catholic missionaries in european, african and asian, that has a thousand members, priests and laity, according to its website.