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By Nancy Ing and Alastair Jamieson

Three armed suspects were on the run Monday after a bungled robbery at a department store in Paris that trapped 18 workers inside for several hours.

One woman was injured as the drama unfolded at the Primark clothing store in the Qwartz de Villeneuve-la-Garenne mall in the suburb of Hauts-de-Seine.

Elite special forces were called in to free the workers, but the suspects were not found during a subsequent sweep of the mall.

Six of the 18 were held hostage by the robbers, police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told NBC News. The rest took refuge until police arrived, Reuters reported.

Police officers stand outside the Qwartz mall after a robbery attempt on Monday.THOMAS SAMSON / AFP via Getty Images

The robbers struck just after 6 a.m. local time (midnight ET) as workers arrived to stock shelves.

AFP reported that one of the workers had locked themselves in a bathroom and contacted police by text message.

The incident comes as France is on heightened alert following terrorist attacks in January in which a dozen people were killed.

Alexander Smith and David Wyllie contributed.