18 Hostages Freed in Paris Armed Attack

18 Hostages Freed in Paris Armed Attack
18 Hostages Freed in Paris Armed Attack

French police on Monday were hunting armed robbers who escaped after holding up a store in a shopping mall near Paris, prompting special forces to intervene and seal off the area.

The mall was promptly evacuated, but according to police, 18 employees had remained inside, some were told to stay put by the gunmen and others had managed to hide on their own, AFP reported.

They "were evacuated around 10:30 a.m. local time, one of them was unwell but no one was injured," police said.

The three men, one of whom was thought to be an employee of the shop, burst into the Primark store in Villeneuve-la-Garenne early on Monday, said a police source who wished to remain anonymous. One of the workers had locked themselves in a bathroom and contacted police by text message.

The area around the Qwartz mall was shut down, all traffic stopped and other stores in the vicinity closed up as special forces rushed to the scene.

The incident comes as France is on heightened alert following attacks in January on French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo in which a dozen people were killed. However, police ruled out the robbery as a terrorist attack.