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Shootings in Paris at major French bank and leading left daily Liberation

A gunman remains on the run after opening fire at a newspaper office in Paris. Soon afterward, shots were fired at the headquarters of a major French bank west of Paris, and a gunman briefly took a man hostage nearby.

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Manhunt for Paris shooter

Paris police continue to hunt for the man they believe to be the same attacker. They have not announced a motive.

In a statement, President Francois Hollande said that he had ordered authorities to "mobilize all means to clarify the circumstances of these acts and arrest the perpetrator or perpetrators."

The shooting at the daily newspaper Liberation, in the Republique district of Paris, came three days after a man fired several rounds from a shotgun at the BFMTV news network elsewhere in the capital, which remains under investigation. In that incident, the shooter emptied several cartridges before warning a senior editor, "Next time, I will not miss you."

'Very, very serious'

Witnesses reported that the gunman said nothing during the brief time when he entered the Liberation lobby on Monday morning soon after 10 a.m. (0900 UTC). Yoann Maras of the police union Alliance said the gunman fired a pump-action shotgun of the type commonly used for hunting.

Police and representatives of Liberation say that a 27-year-old photographer's assistant remains in serious condition after the gunman shot him in the chest and arm. Liberation publisher Nicolas Demorand said the shooting in the paper's entrance hall had left staff traumatized.

"When you have someone with a shotgun coming into a newspaper's offices in a democracy, it is very, very serious, whatever the mental state of the person," Demorand said. "If papers and other media have to become bunkers, something has gone wrong in our society."

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault condemned as "unspeakable" the shooting at Liberation, a center-left newspaper co-founded by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, calling it an attack on "one of the pillars of our democracy: press freedom."

Further attacks

Within two hours of the Liberation shooting, a man fired three shots, reportedly also from a pump-action, at the headquarters of Societe Generale in the suburb of La Defense, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of the Liberation offices, according to the bank and Paris police. That attack saw no injuries.

Very soon after, a man called police to say that a gunman had taken him hostage in the community of Puteaux, near La Defense. Police said the suspect had forced his hostage to drive 6 kilometers back toward central Paris, and then let him go on the Champs-Elysees, a chic and busy shopping thoroughfare.

The government has positioned police at all major media organizations in Paris, according to Interior Minister Manuel Valls.

Connection?

BFMTV reported that authorities have compared Monday's surveillance footage with video taken Friday, when an armed man fired a weapon and threatened journalists in the news network's lobby before fleeing, as well as the bullet casings from both attacks.

The man taped at BFMTV resembled the gunman who attacked Liberation, the newspaper reported, citing police. Witnesses describe him as in his 40s and wearing a long khaki coat.

"As long as this person is still on the loose and we do not know the motives, this represents a threat," Interior Minister Valls told reporters outside Liberation's offices. "We must move fast."

mkg/ph (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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