A man stabbed and badly wounded a policewoman in the town of La Chapelle-sur-Erdre on Friday before he was arrested in a shootout, the national gendarmerie force and media said.
BFM TV reported the assailant had been caught after a manhunt that involved two police helicopters and more than 200 officers.
There was a shoot-out during the arrest and some policemen were slightly injured, it added. The victim was in a critical state, the news channel added. The suspect later died while in police custody.
The man, who police said stole the officer’s weapon, initially fled in a car before a crash forced him to continue on foot. Schools in the area were under police protection.
The motive for the stabbing was not immediately clear.
The incident comes a month after a female police administrative worker was knifed to death near Paris by a Tunisian national who had watched religious videos glorifying acts of jihad just before waging his attack.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was traveling to the scene of Friday’s attack.