Gunfire in Marseille ahead of French PM's visit

Police in the southern French city of Marseille say gunmen have fired automatic weapons at the edge of a housing project the same day as the PM planned to visit the city. No injuries were immediately reported

MarseillePolice were carrying out an operation in the southern French city of Marseille Monday after reports of gunfire.

The firing took place even as Prime Minister Manuel Valls is due to visit the city, The Local news portal's French edition reported.

A police operation was under way in an estate in Marseille where residents said "Kalashnikov shots" were fired "in the air", sources close to the case said, adding there were no casualties.

A police official, who could not be named because she was not authorized to speak publicly about today's shooting, said riot police have blocked off the Castellane housing project in northern Marseille. The project is rife with drug gangs and violence.

Samia Ghali, a senator from the region, told iTele that she spoke with the police director and was told that the gunmen were targeting police and also firing at random. 

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was due in Marseille, France's second-largest city, to talk about security and education. 

Some unconfirmed reports have claimed shots were fired at Marseille's police chief Pierre-Marie Bourniquel when he arrived at the scene to oversee the police operation.

He was forced to take cover in his car, with bullets flying nearby, French newspaper Le Figaro said.

The last major terror incident in France was the attack on the headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in capital Paris.

The attack took place on January 7 when two Islamist terrorists forced their way into the offices and killed 11 people, including the editor-in-chief.

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