The soldiers, who belonged to Ambert’s company, were fatally injured by gunshot while trying to rescue a woman who took refuge on the roof of a house. It was finally made safe.
The victims are Brigadier Arno Mavel (21), Lieutenant Cyrille Morel (45) and Warrant Officer Remi Dupuis (37), the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The suspect, a 48-year-old man, was still wanted in the early morning. The police, who were the subject of significant reinforcements during the night, installed roadblocks to block all access routes to the place of the tragedy.
Shortly after midnight, two gendarmes, alerted for acts of violence against a spouse, were targeted by gunfire after trying to approach the house where the threatened woman had taken refuge. One of them died of his injuries while the second, injured in the thigh, was transported by firefighters to the Ambert hospital center.
After these first shots, the madman set his house on fire.
The gendarmes present in the vicinity of the house and seeking to know if the firefighters could engage to extinguish the fire were in turn targeted. The man, entrenched at home and heavily armed, then made two new victims among the military, the Clermont-Ferrand prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP.
GIGN on site
The firefighters were only able to approach the two men after several tens of minutes, the time to secure the perimeter. Called to the scene of the tragedy, the Samu could do nothing to revive them.
The GIGN arrived on site around 2:30 am, the Interior Ministry said.
“At least seven (of its members) are there. The greatest precautions are taken with regard to the dangerousness of the individual, ”a source close to the investigation told AFP.
“It is a gendarmerie operation which is part of a framework of intra-family violence which has had consequences and which is still under development. Extra-departmental resources are largely mobilized on this operation, ”for its part, the prefecture told AFP.
The threatened woman is currently being questioned in an attempt to shed light on the facts. The shooter is said to be known for incidents related to child custody issues.
The fire is still not under control but does not threaten other homes.
The Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, who saluted the memory of the victims, follows the progress of the operations from Place Beauvau. He indicates that he will hold a new situation update during the morning.
The sub-prefect of this remote area in the south-east of Puy-de-Dôme as well as the mayor of Saint-Just, a small village of 157 inhabitants, are on site, sheltered.
Apart from terrorism, attacks with firearms against the police are relatively rare in France.
Last May, a madman entrenched at his home in Saint-Christoly-Médoc (Gironde) had fired a rifle at the gendarmes, slightly injuring one of them. While the man was about to shoot again, with a sniper rifle, a GIGN gendarme had killed him with a “neutralization shot”.