A 47-year-old former soldier has been arrested on suspicion of killing a woman at a retirement home in the south of France.

Over 100 police officers had been searching for the gunman following the fatal attack on Thursday (24 November) evening.

The suspect, who is a former employee of the home for Roman Catholic Missionaries near Montpellier, was detained 100 miles from his home in Saint-Mathieu-de-Treviers ITV news reports.

Montpellier prosecutor Christophe Barret said investigators had found a car near the scene of the crime that contained a replica firearm and other materials that led them to the suspect.

During the incident, a 54-year-old linen maid was stabbed to death after a man armed with a knife and a sawn-off shotgun, forced his way into the home in Montferrier-sur-Lez.

According to Sky News, the victim was reportedly found gagged and tied up inside the laundry room of the property. A second woman had also been stabbed in the attack, but not fatally, and was able to alert police

Armed officers searched the facility, which is home to about 70 elderly men and women. The residents including some who are over the age of 90, were led to safety.

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

While a motive for the attack is unclear, authorities claim there is no apparent link to terrorism, Associated Press reports.

France remains in a state of emergency in the wake of a series of terror attacks over the last two years, including the murder of an 86-year-old priest near Rouen in July.