PARIS (AP) -- A gunman opened fire in the lobby of a French newspaper office in Paris on Monday, gravely wounding a photographer's assistant before fleeing. Soon afterward, shots were fired at the headquarters of a major French bank west of Paris, and an armed man briefly took a man hostage nearby.
The Paris police headquarters said that it is not clear whether the incidents are linked, but that authorities increased security at all three places as well as media offices around Paris. As police hunted for the attacker or attackers, a helicopter flew over the neighborhood that includes the French president's office and the nearby Champs-Elysees avenue.
The motivation behind all three attacks was unclear.
The shooting at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation on Monday occurred three days after another mysterious shooting at the BFM-TV news network. French President Francois Hollande said the attacker at both sites is "apparently" the same man.
A 27-year-old photographer's assistant from Liberation was in serious condition after being shot in the chest and arm, according to police and representatives of the newspaper. The culture minister called Liberation -- an outspoken left-leaning paper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre that has seen financial difficulties and layoffs in recent years -- a "pillar of our democracy."
Witnesses reported the gunman said nothing during the brief time he was in the lobby on Monday soon after 10 a.m. Yoann Maras of the police union Alliance said the gunman fired a pump-action rifle.
Less than two hours after the shooting at Liberation, three shots were fired in front of the headquarters of the bank Societe Generale in the Paris suburb of La Defense, according to Paris police. Societe Generale, based about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of the Liberation offices, said in a statement that a lone gunman opened fire in front of the building, and no one was hurt.
Very soon after that, a man called police to say he had been taken hostage by a gunman in the town of Puteaux, next door to La Defense. Police said the gunman forced his hostage to drive six kilometers (3 1/2 miles) back toward central Paris, then let him go on the Champs-Elysees, a chic and busy shopping thoroughfare.
Police were searching the neighborhood and other sites around the French capital, the Paris police headquarters said.
The government positioned police at all major media organizations in Paris, according to Interior Minister Manuel Valls. BFM-TV said authorities were comparing Monday's surveillance footage with video taken Friday, when an armed man fired a weapon and threatened journalists in the news network's lobby before fleeing. The bullet casings were also being compared.
BFM-TV aired images from its surveillance cameras of a man waving a rifle in the building, then running away down the street.
Hollande said in a statement that he ordered authorities to "mobilize all means to clarify the circumstances of these acts and arrest the perpetrator or perpetrators."
Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders denounced the attacks on the journalism facilities.
Associated Press writers Sarah DiLorenzo and Milos Krivokapic contributed to this report.
(Raw video courtesy NDN)