Two Dead as Gunman Storms Catholic Monk Retirement Home in France

Gendarmes stand guard on a road near a retirement home for monks in Montferrier-sur-Lez, southern France, early on November 25, 2016, after an armed man bursted in the home killing a woman with a knife. Armed police were hunting the man inside the home, which is home to around 70 men and women who have served as missionaries in Africa. Authorities said it was a "criminal act". / AFP / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

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Two people are believed to be dead and around 70 were held hostage at a retirement home for Catholic Monks in Montpellier in the South of France.

According to local news sources, armed police scrambled to the Maison de Retraite des Missions Africaines on Thursday night.

“An individual, who was masked and armed with a knife and a sawn-off shotgun came into the retirement home where 70 monks live,” a source told Agence France Presse.

Police have not yet made a statement on a believed motive, but the attack comes just months after Islamic State supporters murdered a priest in Rouen.

The gunman is believed to have been wearing a hood, entering the home at around 9:45pm local time.

“A supervisor inside the building raised the alarm very discreetly,” the Mail reports a local police source as having commented.

The country is still on a high state of alert for terrorism, with the U.S. government warning that terrorists may seize upon the Christmas period and specifically Christmas markets to attack European nations.

UPDATE — 18:43 EST

Local reports suggest that at least 59 of the monks have now been freed with police storming the building. The attacker is believed to still be at large.