Three French police officers were shot dead when a man opened fire on them as they arrived at a house in a remote village in response to a report of domestic violence against a woman, police said Wednesday.
The man, suspected of carrying out an attack on police officers in France's central Puy-de-Dome region, was later found dead, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter shortly after the attack. French officials made no mention of any suspected militant motive behind the incident.
The incident began when the group of gendarmerie arrived at a house in a small hamlet near the town of Saint-Just in the early hours of the morning, following a call about domestic violence. Police had approached the house shortly after midnight and were targeted by gunfire. The man initially shot and killed one officer and wounded another, before setting fire to the house. Two additional officers, responding to the scene, were then fired on and killed, according to the prosecutor's office in Clermont-Ferrand.
Police reinforcements were rushed to the scene, and all roads leading to the house were blocked off. Firefighters are also at the site attempting to control the blaze. The woman, who was the reported victim of domestic violence, sought refuge on the roof of the house and was rescued safely by police. The house was destroyed by the fire, BFMTV reported.
"This is a gendarme operation which is related to domestic violence, which has seen some developments that are still in progress," a representative of the regional prefect's office told Reuters.
The interior ministry said the three gendarme officers killed in the incident were aged 21, 37 and 45. A fourth officer, who was wounded, did not have life-threatening injuries, the ministry added in a statement.
"The nation bows down before their courage and commitment," Darmanin wrote on Twitter, paying tribute to the officers who were killed. "Everything is being done to find the person responsible for these acts."
Shootings of police officers in France are relatively rare.
Last May, a man fired at police from his house in the Gironde region of southwest France, wounding one officer. As he was about to fire again, he was shot dead by police, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).