Shooter on the run in Paris after newspaper attack
A frantic manhunt was underway for a gunman in Paris on Monday as a 27-year-old fought for his life after being shot at the offices of French daily Liberation.
The victim, a photographer's assistant, was shot in the chest and stomach with a pump-action shotgun and was in a critical condition, police and the newspaper said.
The shooter fled the scene and was still at large several hours after the attack, which occurred around 10:15am (0915 GMT).
Just over an hour later, witnesses described shots being fired -- also from a pump-action shotgun -- outside the headquarters of Societe Generale bank in the La Defense business district.
Police said they were also checking a statement by a car driver who claimed to have been briefly taken hostage by a gunman near La Defense and forced to drop him off close to the Champs-Elysees.
Police helicopters were circulating over the French capital's most famous avenue, apparently looking for the gunman.
Police could not immediately confirm a link between all of Monday's reported incidents but said that CCTV images of the shooter suggested he was the same man who had stormed into the Paris headquarters of news channel BFMTV on Friday.
In that incident, the gunman emptied several cartridges from his shotgun before warning a senior editor: "Next time, I will not miss you."
Francisco Alvarez witnessed Monday's shooting at La Defense.
"I saw this guy with a cap and a shotgun, a pump-action shotgun, in his hand," Alvarez told AFP. "I don't think he was necessarily targeting anyone, he shot in the air then into a window. The first shot shocked everyone into silence and then the second caused a general panic. Then he ran away down the steps to the street."
As news of the Liberation shooting broke, Police were quickly deployed at major media offices in Paris for fear of further attacks.
Liberation executive Nicolas Demorand said the shooting in the paper's entrance hall had left staff traumatised.
"When you have someone with a shotgun coming into a newspaper's offices in a democracy, it is very, very serious, whatever the mental state of the person," Demorand told AFP.
"If papers and other media have to become bunkers, something has gone wrong in our society."
A police security cordon had been erected around Liberation's editorial offices in central Paris.
The newspaper said the injured man worked as an assistant to one of the photographers for its Next supplement.
Liberation journalist Anastasia Vecrin described the horrifying scene she was confronted with on what was otherwise just a normal Monday morning.
"I was just arriving for work and I saw a man lying on the ground, holding his stomach and with blood everywhere," she told AFP.
"I met two of the reception staff who were completely white and who told me 'we've just been shot at'."
The shooting stunned the French capital and Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that everything possible would be done to apprehend the shooter.
"This individual is on the run and he represents a real danger. We will do everything we can to arrest him," Valls said.
© 2013 AFP