Eighteen hostages, held by armed robbers in a Paris Primark, have been evacuated. All said to be in good health.
Three gunmen, armed with one or more shotguns, entered the Primark branch in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, just north of central Paris, at 6.30am on 13 July. At the time, employees were starting to arrive at the Qwartz shopping mall where the shop is located.
Despite the peaceful conclusion to the stand-off, the whereabouts of the gunmen is unknown and they are believed to have fled the scene. French police have started a manhunt to track them down.
- A platoon of elite French special forces, known as RAID, has been dispatched to the store
- An employee of the store managed to send a mobile text to a friend to raise the alarm about the hostage situation
- The Primark store is located in the Qwartz shopping mall of Villeneuve-la-Garenne
- 18 employees have been evacuated
- The whereabouts of the gunmen is unknown and they have most likely fled the scene
While it is still unclear why the gunmen stormed the store at 6am, a Primark employee told Le Parisien a cash escort comes every day to collect the store takings , execept on Sundays.
The gunmen, who are said to have been perfectly informed, may have been looking to get their hands on the weekend's proceeds.
According to local media, the store would have been very busy this weekend, especially as it comes during a sale period at Primark.
Meanwhile, police are reported to have launched a manhunt after failing to arrest the gunmen.
The Qwartz shopping centre is expected to re-open at around 2.30pm local time, according to France TV.
French police are continuing in their efforts to find the criminals, who were "filmed entering the shopping centre without leaving it according to security cameras", a police source told reporters.
It is still unclear whether 18 employees from the Primark store were held hostage by the criminals or whether they had managed to find refuge in another part of the Qwarts shopping centre.
Police have set up a perimeter around the Qwartz shopping centre from which the 18 hostages are now said to have evacuated.
There whereabouts of the the armed robbers is, as of yet, unknown with fears they may have been able to make an escape.
Gunmen reported to have escaped the scene. Police have said the Primark store has been cleared of any individuals but the armed robbers have not been recovered.
Image shows the outside of the shop in the Qwartz shopping centre. One of the gunmen is believed to be an employee at the branch of the Irish owned discount clothing chain.
Unclear from reports on the ground but negotiators are said to have gone into the department store, where they are talking down gunmen.
One of the hostages fainted but no one was injured during the holdup, according to a police source.
Police are questioning the 18 employees who have been evacuated to determine whether the gunmen are among them, a source told the AFP.
The release could mean the end of the crisis but police are still looking for the gunmen inside the Primark store.
According to BFM TV, the 18 fearful Primark employees, who had taken refuge in a canteen located in the Qwartz shopping centre, may have been evacuated around 10.30am.
The exterior of the Qwartz shopping centre in Villeneuve-la-Garenne.
Newspaper Le Parisien has reported that up to 18 employees are held hostage in the Primark store and that the criminals are armed with shotguns.
One of the criminals may have been recognised as an employee from the store, according to Le Parisien.
The three criminals entered the store at 6am (local time) at the same time as many employees of the Qwartz shopping centre.
A man, who was in the shopping centre to supply candy machines, told Le Parisien he saw people running out of the building "in panic".
"Everyone was running and yelling: "They are armed, they are armed. We need to get out!" the man said.
The Primark store is located in the Qwartz shopping mall of Villeneuve-la-Garenne, a town in the northern suburbs of Paris.
The town is located around 9km (5.5 miles) from the centre of Paris in the Hauts-de-Seine department in the Île-de-France region.
"Around 6.30am, two or three armed criminals entered the Primark store for what we believe was an attempted robbery," a police source said. "Around 10 people are inside the store."
A platoon of elite French special forces, known as RAID, has been dispatched to the store.
According to BFM TV, a female employee of the store managed to send a mobile text to her boyfriend at 7am (local time) to raise the alarm about the hostage situation.
A gunman is holding 10 people hostage in a store in the French capital.
According to the French authorities, the hostages are held in a Primark store in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, near Paris.
This hostage situation comes a day before France celebrates Bastille Day.