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A former French soldier has been arrested on suspicion of attacking a retirement home for Catholic missionaries in France. The 47-year-old man is accused of killing a laundress whose body was found bound and gagged outside the Green Oaks home near the city of Montpellier on Thursday night. He was caught after almost 24 hours on the run, with more than 130 police officers, road blocks and helicopters deployed in a large-scale manhunt. Authorities had warned the suspect was “very dangerous” but sought to calm fears of a terror attack. Initial statements from police said the man was armed with a “sawn-off shotgun” and knife but an air gun has since been recovered in his car. The man, masked and dressed in black, attacked the retirement home at around 9.45pm local time (8.45pm GMT), when around 60 residents and workers were inside. Alain Berthet, a local councillor in Montferrier-sur-Lez, said the home’s residents – priests, nuns and others who had worked in Africa – were “very elderly with an average age of 75 although some are more than 90,” with many needing assistance to walk. The unnamed suspect is alleged to have killed a 54-year-old employee of the retirement home, where she worked as a laundress. Her body was found bound and gagged with knife wounds.