On Friday morning 23 March, reports emerged of a hostage situation in the Trèbes commune near Toulouse and Montpellier, in the south of France.

Initially, a heavily armed attacker initiated gunfire near a supermarket in the town. A standoff with the police resulted in two people being killed and several others wounded, following which the gunman took several people hostage inside the supermarket. The assailant held the hostages for several hours before elite police forces finally contained the situation shortly after 3pm. The assailant was taken out in the process.

During the time of the hostage situation, a large security operation took place resulting in significant disruptions in the area. France’s interior ministry issued an alert urging people to stay clear of the affected area.

Additional reports have connected the incident to one that occurred earlier in the day in the town of Carcassone, about 8 kilometers from Trèbes, where a police officer was shot and wounded.

According to official reports, the attacker had claimed allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS) terror organization.

GWS provides travellers with the following advice during terror-related incidents:

If a Terrorism event occurs:

  • Remain calm.
  • Follow the instruction of emergency personnel.
  • Listen to local media broadcasts for further information
  • Implement business continuity and emergency plans if safe to do so

Evacuation During a Terror Attack

  • Respond immediately to any instructions from the emergency services regarding premises evacuation.
  • Seek to distance yourself from the situation if safe to do so; exit the area quickly and quietly, using routes that lead away from the danger, and make yourself known to police or emergency personnel
  • Risk management team, business continuity manager or designated Incident Manager / Gold Commander may be liaising with the emergency services and on-site personnel to implement an evacuation.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities—do not use alternative routes due to potential road closures, ongoing counter-terrorism operations or the threat of secondary attacks.
  • The incident may require an invacuation or “Shelter in Place”. Personnel should rally at a pre-determined safe location and keep all doors and windows locked. Plant equipment should be turned off if possible. Contingency planning will need to consider sustenance, particularly fluids, first aid provision and toilet facilities at the pre-determined location.
  • Be prepared to wait and remain patient. It could be many hours before personnel are able to leave the building.
  • Do not leave the ‘Shelter in Place’ until informed to do so by someone in authority.