France: Newspaper shooting suspect arrested

This photo taken from a footage of a security camera and released by Paris police shows the man who opened fire at BFMTV station on Friday. Photo / AP
This photo taken from a footage of a security camera and released by Paris police shows the man who opened fire at BFMTV station on Friday. Photo / AP

The suspect in a Paris newspaper office shooting that left a photographer gravely wounded and other attacks that triggered a two-day nationwide manhunt has been arrested, French authorities said.

Agnes Thibault Lecuivre, a spokeswoman for the French prosecutor's office, said that "a suspect with a strong resemblance to the shooter" was arrested in an underground parking lot in Bois-Colombes, 10 kilometres north of Paris.

She could not confirm French media reports that he is being treated in the hospital.

The motive for the Monday attacks is still unclear. Authorities believed a lone gunman was involved in the shooting at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation, a shooting outside French bank Societe Generale, a brief hostage-taking in which the suspect hijacked a car, and a similar shooting incident three days before at news network BFM-TV.

Authorities released video footage and photos of the shooter who was wielding a pump-action shotgun.

The shooting prompted cries of concern about attacks on the media. The culture minister called Liberation - an outspoken left-leaning paper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre that has seen financial difficulties and layoffs in recent years - a "pillar of our democracy".

Security was tightened at media offices and on the busy Champs-Elysees shopping avenue.
In a sign of the jumpy mood, police in the southern town of Perigueux upped security at schools, churches and public buildings Wednesday after an armed man was spotted in the street. Police later said he had nothing to do with the Paris attacks.

The gunman entered the lobby of Liberation around 10am Monday (local time) and opened fire. A 23-year-old photographer, who works at the paper as a freelance assistant, was in intensive care after being shot near the heart and in the arm.

Less than two hours after the shooting at Liberation, three shots were fired in front of the headquarters of the bank Societe Generale in the Paris suburb of La Defense, according to Paris police. Societe Generale said no one was hurt.

Less than an hour later, a man called police to say he had been taken hostage by a gunman in the town of Puteaux, next door to La Defense. Police said the gunman forced his hostage to drive six kilometres back toward central Paris, then let him go on the Champs-Elysees.

Three days before at BFM-TV, an armed man threatened journalists with a shotgun in the news network's lobby before fleeing.

He left behind unused cartridges, and told witnesses, "Next time, I won't miss," according to authorities. It was unclear whether the gunman's weapon malfunctioned or whether he chose not to shoot.

- AP

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