A 17-year-old pupil has been arrested after a shooting at a high school in the southern French town of Grasse, in which several people were wounded.
Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
The teenager, who was armed with a rifle, two handguns and two grenades, was a student at the Alexis de Tocqueville high school, where he allegedly opened fire, targeting the headteacher.
The interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said eight people had been injured and it was too early to know the motive behind the attack.
Christian Estrosi, the rightwing head of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, said terrorism was “not at all” the line of investigation in the inquiry.
The French government had initiated an attack alert via smartphone in the wake of the shooting at Thursday lunchtime. Police cordoned off the area and residents gathered outside, along with several emergency vehicles.
The town, France’s perfume capital, lies around about 25 miles (40km) from the Riviera city of Nice.
The government minister for victims’ affairs tweeted that all the students were safe.
Le Monde said a police source had indicated the arrested teenager’s internet accounts showed he had watched videos of mass shootings.
One girl who saw the shooter enter the school told France Info radio he had looked her straight in the eye with “a fury”.
Another student, Benjamin, told Nice Matin: “I was sitting down finishing my lunch. I heard a big explosion, then two others. I turned and saw someone in the schoolyard with a pump-action shotgun, firing. He fired through windows into the classrooms overlooking the yard. When I saw that, I ran away.”
School shootings are rare in France. The country remains under a state of emergency after after a series of terror attacks including coordinated attacks on Paris claimed by Islamic State in November 2015 in which 130 people died, and a truck attack in Nice in July last year that killed 86.
The Grasse shooting comes less than six weeks before the two-round presidential election on 23 April and 7 May.
A crisis cell had been put in place, education official Emmanuel Ethis said on Twitter.
Local officials told the AFP news agency that several pupils had fled and sought refuge in a nearby supermarket “which created panic and rumours of an attack”.
The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, cut short a trip to the northern Somme area because of the shooting and a letter bomb blast at the offices of the International Monetary Fund in Paris, also on Thursday.
This weekend marks the five-year anniversary of the Toulouse school killings, in which an extremist, Mohamed Merah, shot dead three children and a teacher at a Jewish school before being killed by police in a siege. – theguardian