Monks held hostage by armed man in French retirement home

Armed police are at the scene (Reuters / file)
Armed police are at the scene (Reuters / file)

An armed man has fled the scene after killing two people in an attack on a retirement home for monks near Montpellier, France.

Around 70 monks live in the building in Montferrier-sur-Lez and all residents have been secured.

The man, masked and armed with a knife and a sawn-off shotgun, broke into the home at around 9:45pm on Thursday (local time), according to reports.

An elderly woman was stabbed to death after contacting police, a source told Reuters. It's believed the second person who was killed was a man.

Armed police have surrounded and entered the building, clearing the three-storey building floor-by-floor.

Police are still hunting for the person responsible for the attack and while the motive is unknown, police don't believe the incident is related to terrorism.