KARIN – Police are not investigating incident as terrorism after attackers targeted a housing estate and reportedly took one man hostage
Hooded gunmen armed with AK-47s have opened fire near a group of young people on a housing estate outside the French Mediterranean city of Marseille before reportedly taking a man hostage.
At least one person was injured when the gunmen, all dressed in black, drew up in three vehicles, and began shooting near a cultural centre in the Busserine district.
The local newspaper La Provence reported that the armed gang appeared to be looking for someone and threatened locals before firing several times into the air. They then grabbed a youth and drove off.
Police said the incident was not being investigated as terrorism.
Amateur film footage posted on Twitter showed at least half a dozen black-clad gunmen firing, apparently at random, on the estate. Witnesses said the group brandished several semi-automatic rifles and at least one handgun.
The local prosecutor Xavier Tarabeux said the gunmen were involved in an exchange of fire with police called to the scene who found their squad car blocked by a Renault Megane belonging to the gang. After a brief shootout the gunmen sped off.
“According to a witness, one person was abducted in a car whose occupants shot in the air several times,” Tarabeux told local journalists.
A Marseille police officer said “numerous bullet casings” had been found at the scene. He added that the incident was not being investigated as a terrorist attack.
The shooting happened shortly before 5pm local time. The injured man was taken to hospital with a minor head injury after one of the gunmen hit him with the rifle butt.
Busserine, one of Marseille’s northern housing estates, in the city’s 14th arrondissement, is a district of high unemployment, poverty and drug gangs. In 2016 police smashed what was described as a “drug supermarket” with around 450 regular customers and takings of up to €15,000 ($18,000) a day.
France television reported that six people have been killed in alleged gang-related shootings since the beginning of the year.