Paris: French police on Monday evacuated 18 people from a Primark store near Paris after few gunmen tried to hold the people hostage.
In what was described as an 'armed robbery' attempt, three gunmen stormed into a Primark store in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, north of Paris, holding several people hostage, French police said.
According to reports, special forces were rushed to the site, and all traffic in the area around the Qwartz shopping centre was closed.
According to a report in Le Parisien, the police later managed to evacuate 18 people, who were hiding in Primark store's canteen. The report added that the police is on the hunt for the three criminals, one of whom, is said to be an employee of the Primark clothing store.
The AFP reports that the CCTV cameras have captured the armed men entering the mall but they have not been filmed leaving the premises, indicating that they are still inside.
France, and the Paris area in particular, is still on high alert and some 7,000 soldiers are deployed around the country to help police in countering any further attack.
But so far police have indicated that Monday`s attack appears to be an attempt at armed robbery.
They "were evacuated around 10:30, one of them was unwell but no one was injured," police said as per an AFP report.
The gunmen, three in number barged into the shopping centre (Primark store)at around 06:30 am in the morning (local time) in what "was initially an attempt at armed robbery", the AFP quoted a police source as saying.
According to a police source, one of the employees first texted her boyfriend at 7:00 am, alerting him that they were held by gunmen.
Primak is an Irish clothing retailer, headquartered in Ireland's Dublin and besides France, also operates in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom.
The incident comes as France is still on high alert in the aftermath of the deadly attack in January when 17 people were gunned down near Paris, including at magazine Charlie Hebdo magazine by al Qaeda-trained Kouachi brothers.