A FAR-RIGHT politician's 16-year-old son has opened fire at his high school in southern France, wounding three people including his head master.
Kylian Barbey was armed with two revolvers, a hunting rifle and "training" grenades when he launched his attack at the Alexis de Tocqueville college in the small town of Grasse about 1pm Thursday (11pm Thursday AEDT). He was arrested shortly after.
Hours before the shooting, the teen is believed to have compiled a Columbine massacre-inspired playlist and changed his Facebook profile picture to a gun-wielding skeleton from an ultra-violent, far-right video game.
The Columbine High School massacre saw 13 people murdered and more than 20 injured in the US state of Colorado on April 20, 1999. The teen gunmen then killed themselves.
Kylian, who goes by the name "Killian" on Facebook, has been described as a "lonely Satanist" obsessed with heavy metal and mass shootings at American high schools.
The teen's father, Franck Barbey, is an elected municipal councillor for the hard right Rally for France (RPF) party, which fights globalisation, European federalism, and immigration.
The party's members, including Mr Barbey, have traditionally allied themselves with Marine Le Pen's National Front.
Mr Barbey tweeted after the attack: "Heartfelt support for the director, the teachers, the staff, the pupils, and the parents of pupils."
The attack came shortly after a letter bomb exploded at the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund in Paris.
The Sun reports the injured in the school shooting have been identified as Herve Pizzinat, the head of the school, and two pupils identified solely as Julie, 16, and Akram, 17. Five others were lightly hurt in the stampede.
Mr Pizzinat was thought to be the main target, with the two students hurt by ricocheting bullets.
The president of the region, Christian Estrosi, said the principal suffered an arm wound and told him that after being alerted to the presence of the armed student, "he tried to interpose ... to try to calm him, and unfortunately he didn't succeed."
French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem hailed the head master as a "hero" who "rushed towards the student to try and reason with him". Thanks to his actions, "we escaped the worst," she said.
She described the incident as an "act of madness" carried out by someone who was "unstable".
"It was a crazy act by a youth who is unstable and fascinated by guns," she said.
During the terrifying attack, some students hid at the school and others were evacuated as a police helicopter circled overhead.
A visibly shaken student told BFM TV that he heard four shots, then "it was total panic" at his school.
"I was downstairs ... We started to run. I was with a buddy and we took refuge upstairs," said the young man, identified only as Andreas.
"Then, the riot police arrived ... It was like in a film. We hear this kind of thing in Paris. Now we understand what it is," he said.
Marianna, a student at the college, told France Info: "I was in English class. We heard a gunshot. We didn't think it was an attack. We had the reflex to go under the tables.
"I went to shut the windows and a guy looked at me in the eyes. He looked like another student. He wasn't very tall. He shot in the air and then ran away. We stayed inside the classrooms until the police emptied the two floors."
Another student, 16-year-old Benjamin, told Nice Matin: "At around 12.40pm, I was sitting down finishing eating. I heard a big bang and then two others. I turned round and saw someone in the playground firing a shotgun. He was shooting through the classroom windows overlooking the playground. When I saw that, I ran away."
Earlier, police said the 16-year-old student was not known by police. They said that he had recently viewed videos of American school shootings.
There were earlier unconfirmed reports that police were searching for a suspected accomplice.
The local town hall in Grasse has said "two students fired on the head teacher" and that the shooting appeared to be linked to a "dispute between students".
The interior ministry later said it was thought there was only one shooter, who appeared to target the head teacher, according to the UK Telegraph.
Anti-terror police swooped on the scene, as the French government issued a terror warning for the entire country.
Local emergency services advised residents on Twitter to stay at home. The government launched its mobile telephone application warning of a "terrorist" attack. Education authorities said all schools in Grasse were locked down.
France remains in a state of emergency after a string of deadly Islamic attacks over the past two years.
LETTER BOMB EXPLODES AT IMF IN PARIS
Earlier on Thursday, a letter bomb exploded at the French office of the International Monetary Fund, lightly injuring one person, according to Paris police.
The secretary who opened the letter was injured by shrapnel in the face and hurt in the eardrum because of a "rather violent noise," Paris police chief Michel Cadot said.
Staff from the IMF office were evacuated and armed military officers and police guarded the area, in a chic district of western Paris. The World Bank office in France is in the same compound.
It is unclear who sent the homemade explosive, which was like a "big firecracker" and sent by regular mail. Mr Cadot said the IMF office had received threatening phone calls in recent days but they were not necessarily linked to Thursday's incident.
IMF director Christine Lagarde, who is French, said in a statement: "I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF's resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate," she said.
French President Francois Hollande, whose country remains in a state of emergency after 235 people were killed in Islamic extremist attacks over the past two years, told reporters: "We are again confronted with an attack. There is no other word for it when you are confronted with a package bomb."
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve cut short a trip to the northern Somme area because of the Grasse shooting and letter bomb blast.
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