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France: Manhunt underway for ex-soldier who shot at gendarmes

A manhunt was underway on Sunday in the French south-western département of Dordogne after an armed former soldier shot at gendarmes responding to a call about a domestic incident, then fled into a wooded area.

The incident took place in the village of Lardin-Saint-Lazare, about 30km from Sarlat, overnight between Saturday and Sunday.

Some 250 gendarmes have now been deployed as well as elite tactical units and dog units from Paris and Toulouse. Two negotiators are also onsite, the gendarmerie said. Four helicopters are flying over the area.

The gendarmerie was called in around midnight after the suspect visited his ex-girlfriend’s house where, the force said, “he abused her new friend”.

The man then reportedly opened fire on gendarmes’ vehicles and escaped into a nearby wooded area.

According to a source close to the investigation, the suspect is a former soldier who was in the army from 2011 to 2016.

Meanwhile Francine Bourra, the mayor of Lardin-Saint-Lazare, has said the suspect is “around 30 years old” and that he “had been imprisoned for domestic violence” and is wearing an electronic ankle tag.

Dordogne prefect Frédéric Périssat added that the man had been located in a “difficult to access” wooded area. He added: “Contact has been established on several occasions in a sporadic manner but this has been followed by shots being fired by the individual.”

The gendarmerie also said that the man’s ex-girlfriend and her children are unharmed and under its protection.

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