PARIS: Gunmen were holed up inside a Primark store near Paris Monday with about 10 people inside after what appears to be an attempt to rob the shop, police said, adding that special forces had been dispatched to the scene.
"Around 6:30am, two or three armed criminals went into the Primark store for what we think was initially an attempt at armed robbery," a police source, who wished to remain anonymous, said of the incident at Villeneuve-la-Garenne.
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Another police source said an employee first alerted her boyfriend of the hold-up around 7 am when she sent him a text message saying they had been taken hostage by two armed men.
Police have stopped all traffic in the area around the Qwartz mall where the Primark store is located, and all other shops in the vicinity have closed up.
According to a source close to the probe, one of the three suspects was recognised as being a Primark employee.
A London-based spokesman for Primark, a low-cost clothing store that has been a huge success in Britain, confirmed there had been an "incident" at its store just north of Paris.
"Police are in attendance... We will do all we can to support our staff and their families," he said.
"We hope for a speedy and safe end to this incident."
The incident comes on the eve of the traditional military parade that takes place every year in Paris on July 14, France's national day.
This year, special forces such as the ones that intervened on Monday will march down the Champs-Elysees for the first time in recognition of the role they played in countering the January attacks.