A group of gunman remain on the loose after holding up a Primark store on the outskirts of Paris on Monday, where they trapped 18 people for four hours before fleeing.
All 18 people, reported to be shop workers, were safely evacuated from the Primark store in a shopping center in the town of Villeneuve-la-Garenne, adjacent to the Seine River about six miles north of central Paris.
A regional police official said officers were now pursuing the gunmen.
The assailants entered the store around 6.30am local time in what police believe was an attempted robbery, another police official said. The workers are believed to have hidden in the shopping center's staff canteen.
Officers from a special police unit entered the store, and a few officers emerged later accompanying women reported to be store employees, according to images broadcast on BFM television.
A Primark employee told VICE News said that the store was often busy, especially on Saturdays, sometimes with lines of people waiting outside to go in and shop.
A rumour was circulating among the staff that a former employee was one of the attackers one of the criminals, she said.
Another Primark employee told Le Parisien newspaper that the stores takings were collected everyday apart from Sundays — meaning a Monday would likely be the most lucrative day to carry out a heist.
There was no immediate sign of a political or other motive for the robbery.
The Paris region remains on high alert after Islamic extremists attacked a kosher supermarket and satirical newspaper offices in January, leaving 20 people dead including the attackers.