Suspect in fatal stabbing in France not linked to terrorism

Firefighters and ambulances are seen in the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez, southern France, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. The French gendarmerie says a masked gunman has burst into a retirement home for monks in southern France and killed an elderly woman with a knife. The press service for the national military police couldn't immediately say whether the incident is linked to a terror act or not. (AP Photo)

PARIS (AP) — A suspect with no apparent link to Islamic terrorism has been identified following the stabbing death of an elderly woman in a retirement home for Catholic missionaries in southern France, a French prosecutor said Friday.

The suspect is believed to be someone “in the entourage of this retirement home”, Montpellier prosecutor Christophe Barret said in a news conference on Friday.

He said investigators discovered an air gun and other elements that he wouldn’t detail in a car near the residence that helped identify the suspect.

“There is no element linking the facts with Islamic terrorism”, he said. The exact motivations of the attacker remain unknown at the point, he added.

Barret didn’t want to disclose any detail on the identity of the suspect in order not to hinder the investigation.

Some 130 police officers are still searching for the suspect following the attack on the woman on Thursday evening.

Gen. Jean-Philippe Lecouffe, chief of the gendarmerie in the region, said the suspect is considered “very dangerous”.

Police forces are patrolling on foot and in vehicles and a helicopter is involved in the search around the village of Montferrier-sur-Lez, near the city of Montpellier.

The body of the woman, a care assistant, was found late Thursday, gagged and tied up outside the building with three stab wounds.

The police were alerted by another worker who didn’t suffer serious injuries.

The residence, called “Green Oaks,” is operated by the African Missions Society, and takes in retired priests, nuns and others who have worked on missions in Africa.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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