Three French police officers were shot dead and another wounded on Wednesday after responding to a call about a domestic disturbance at a remote hamlet in the country's central Puy-de-Dôme department. The 48-year-old suspect fled the scene and was found dead in the morning.
The officers were shot as they responded to a call about domestic violence against a woman at a house in a hamlet near the village of, south-east of the city of Clermont-Ferrand.
Prosecutors said officers had approached the house shortly after midnight and were targeted by gunfire.
The suspect initially shot and killed one officer and wounded another before setting fire to the house. Two further officers were then fired upon and killed.
The woman sought refuge on the roof of the house and was safely rescued. She was being questioned.
The slain officers, aged 21, 37 and 45, were members of the gendarmerie, a police force with military ranks responsible for law enforcement in the French countryside.
French President Emmanuel Macron expressed solidarity with the country’s police force.
“To protect us, our forces act in peril to their lives,” Macron wrote on Twitter. “They are our heroes.”
The gendarmerie’s elite GIGN crisis unit was deployed to the scene and all roads leading to the house were blocked off.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin later reported the suspect had been found dead, without detailing circumstances of the death.
“The suspect has been found dead,” Darmanin wrote on Twitter. “I am travelling to the scene.”
Firefighters also arrived to try and control the blaze. The house was destroyed.
The gunman was reported to be known to authorities for charges relating to child custody issues.
“The greatest precautions are being taken with regard to the dangerousness of the individual,” a source close to the investigation told AFP Agency.
Aside from terror attacks, it is rare for suspects to open fire on police officers in France.
A man opened fire at police from his house in the southwest Gironde region in May, wounding one officer before being shot dead.