Police are searching for an armed man after finding a dead woman in a retirement home where 60 monks are living in southwestern France, sources close to the matter said on Friday.
According to one source, a caretaker contacted the police after freeing herself up after being bound and gagged by the suspect and escaping from the home in Montferrier-sur-Lez about 10 kilometres in the countryside north of Montpellier.
On entering the building, police found the body of a woman who had been stabbed several times, the source said.
“One woman, a resident was assassinated. The security forces have evacuated the residents, about 60, who are safe and sound,” a local official told Reuters, adding that the search in the building was over.
The home houses retired missionaries that had worked in Africa as well as a few nuns.
“Nothing at this stage would indicate that this would be a terrorist act,” another source said. He added that the suspect had fled before security forces arrived.
France is on heightened alert and has been under a state of emergency since a wave of Islamist attacks last year.
Suspects arrested last weekend under anti-terrorism measures had been planning to launch attacks on Dec. 1 at important and landmark sites in and around Paris, a source said earlier on Thursday.