French police hunt for heavily armed ex-soldier

Le Lardin-Saint-Lazare, France: Police with the assistance of aircraft searched for a heavily armed former soldier who allegedly opened fire on policemen attending to a domestic violence incident in southwestern France on Sunday.

The 29-year-old, who has an electronic tag owing to a prior domestic violence conviction, was being sought by 210 police officers and four helicopters in the Dordogne region's woodlands.

"The man is heavily armed and around 30 years old. He is athletic and moving quickly," Francine Bourra, mayor of the village of Lardin-Saint-Lazare, told AFP.

"We have been able to locate him in an area of around four to five kilometers but it's a wooded area, difficult to access," she said.

"The suspect was incarcerated for domestic violence and that's why he was wearing an electronic bracelet," Bourra added.

Andre Petillot, commander of the regional police force, said the suspect was "someone who knows the area well and adapts easily".

"Contact had been established (with the man) several times... but was followed by gunfire. Each time there was contact with him, he's opened fire," Petillot said, adding that police were not firing back.

According to a source close to the investigation, the suspect served in the army from 2011 to 2016.

According to the source, he is armed with a Winchester 30-30 hunting rifle, which is commonly used in the area to hunt boar.

The suspect turned up at his ex-residence partner's in the village of roughly 1,800 residents about midnight on Saturday/Sunday, where he acted brutally against her new lover, police said.

When officers arrived in the area after being summoned, the suspect allegedly fired at them before running into the woods nearby.

While the culprit was still on the run, police advised people to stay inside, leaving the streets of Lardin-Saint-Lazare desolate.

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