Killer on the run after knifing woman to death at French religious home

Updated: 
FRANCE-ATTACKS/


A huge manhunt is under way after a masked man stabbed an elderly woman to death at a Catholic missionary retirement home in southern France.

The motives of the killer, who was wielding a shotgun and knife, remain unclear.

A woman who works at the retirement home in Montferrier-sur-Lez, near Montpellier, called police on Thursday night to say she had been attacked, prosecutor Christophe Barret told reporters.

When the officers arrived, they found the body of another woman, gagged and tied up outside the building with three stab wounds. The worker who alerted police did not suffer serious injuries.

French Gendarmes control cars near the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez
French gendarmes control cars near the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez (AP)

Security at religious and other sites has been increased after a string of Islamic extremist attacks in France, but the military police could not say whether the incident was linked to a terrorist act.

A spokesman said more than 100 security force members were sent to the village, with a helicopter and dogs joining the search.

The African Missions Society residence, called Green Oaks, is home to around 60 people and takes in retired priests, nuns and others who have worked on missions in Africa.

France has been under a state of emergency for a year since Islamic State attacks in Paris killed 130 people.