Police hunt heavily armed former soldier in south-west France

French police backed by helicopters are searching for a heavily armed former soldier who had allegedly opened fire on officers responding to a domestic violence dispute in south-western France.

Some 210 officers and four helicopters were involved in the hunt for the man, who has an electronic tag because of a prior domestic violence conviction and who was still at large in the woods of the Dordogne region.

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

“We have been able to locate him in an area of around four to five kilometres but it’s a wooded area, difficult to access,” said the mayor. “The suspect was incarcerated for domestic violence and that’s why he was wearing an electronic bracelet.

“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.” He added that police were not firing back.

A source close to the investigation said the suspect had served in the army between 2011 and 2016.

At about midnight on Saturday night, the suspect turned up at his former partner’s house in the village of about 1,800 residents, where he acted violently against her new boyfriend, police said. When police arrived after being called to the scene, he allegedly fired at them before fleeing to the nearby woods.

Police urged village residents to remain indoors while the suspect was still on the run and the streets of Lardin-Saint-Lazare were deserted at midday.

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