At least three armed men have taken hostages at a clothing store branch located near Paris.
Paris police have said that ten people are being held hostage in the Primark store in Villeneuve-la-Garenne, located to the northwest of the capital.
According to the Le Parisien paper, there are up to 18 hostages. Other reports claim that 18 hostages were released or managed to escape, while an unknown number remain inside.
Police say the incident is a case of an armed robbery that got complicated, and have ruled out terrorism as a motive.
Armed police are currently at the scene and have secured the area. Surrounding shops and businesses have been closed and staff evacuated.
Local media are now saying one or more of the gunmen involved in the suspected robbery has left the building and is currently at large.
The French Le Figaro quoted a police source as saying a Primark employee managed to send a text message to a friend at 7 a.m., roughly half-an-hour after the incident started, saying he was being held hostage by two armed men.
"Around 6:30 a.m., two or three armed criminals went into the Primark store for what we think was initially an attempt at armed robbery," a police source said.
The police source confirmed reports that ten staff members are not accounted for, but could not confirm that all ten have been taken hostage.
France is currently in a state of high alert, having experienced a number of deadly Islamist terrorist attacks recently, most notably a series of lethal attacks in Paris this past January that left 17 murdered.