Three French policemen were shot dead and a fourth was wounded on Wednesday morning while trying to help a woman who fled to the roof of a house during an incident of domestic violence, officials said.
The shooter was identified as a 48-year-old man.
He allegedly shot two of the policemen shortly after midnight as they approached his home in a rural village near Saint-Just in central France, Agence France-Presse reported.
One of the policemen died from his injuries, while the other was taken to a hospital with a thigh wound.
The madman then set his house on fire when the policemen arrived – and shot two more policemen, killing them, the Clermont-Ferrand prosecutor’s office told AFP.
The dead police officers were 21, 37 and 45 years old, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in a statement.
The authorities managed to put the woman in safety.
The alleged sniper, on the other hand, was still on the run at around 7 am local time.
He is known to police in the area for acts related to child custody issues, sources told AFP.
François Chautard, the mayor of the city of Saint-Just, said during an interview with French TV that a family dispute appears to have caused the incident.
The police were evacuating nearby residents and protecting the area, Chautard told BFMTV, adding that the house had been “completely destroyed by the fire”.