French customs officer shot dead during arms trafficking investigation

Investigators stand outside a building during a police operation in the Saint Jean du Var neighbourhood in Toulon, Southern France on Nov 23, 2015.
Investigators stand outside a building during a police operation in the Saint Jean du Var neighbourhood in Toulon, Southern France on Nov 23, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

MARSEILLE (Reuters) - A man shot dead a French customs officer and wounded another customs official and a policeman during an arms trafficking investigation in the southern port city of Toulon early on Monday (Nov 23), the finance ministry said.

The French government is clamping down on arms trafficking in the wake of the Nov 13 shootings and suicide bombings in Paris - though Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said Monday's shooting was not linked to terrorism.

The officials were posing as couriers delivering a parcel ordered from abroad with weapons parts inside when they were shot, said authorities. The gunman was arrested nearby after trying to flee the scene, a police source said.

The government says the number of weapons coming to France has been growing steadily, both from within the European Union and other countries in regions such as the Balkans and the former Soviet Union.

In 2014, 5,300 guns were seized in France, of which 175 were military-grade weapons, according to the Interior Ministry.