French authorities said the gunman wanted over the attack on a religious home in the south of France, which left one woman dead, has no apparent link to Islamic terrorism, the Associated Press reported.

Montpellier prosecutor Christophe Barret said the suspect is believed to be someone "in the entourage of this retirement home".

The religious retirement residence hosting 59 Catholic monks, priests, nuns was attacked on the night of 24 November. Police said a woman who works at the retirement home called to say she had been attacked. When the officers arrived, the body of another woman was found, gagged and tied up outside the building with three stab wounds.

Local police referred to the incident as a "criminal act". The authorities said the residents of the home were safe. Around 100 officers were searching for the gunman, who is believed to be armed with a shotgun and a knife, in what was described by the Associated Press as an unusually large manhunt operation. The identity of the assailant remains unclear.

A spokesman for the gendarmerie, or military police, said on Friday (25 November) the searches were continuing in a larger area, with help from police dogs, around the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez, near the city of Montpellier.

The residence, called "Green Oaks," is operated by the African Missions Society, and takes in retired priests, nuns and others who have worked on missions in Africa.

Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, spokesman for the French Catholic bishops' conference, tweeted condolences for the woman killed and added, "our prayers reach out also to the missionaries attacked in their retirement home in the Herault (region). God give them all peace."