French soldiers from the 17th parachute regiment participate in a ceremony in June in Montauban, France.

Story highlights

NEW: French Defense Ministry corrects earlier report that all three soldiers died

NEW: The third soldier is "in a very bad state," ministry spokeswoman says

A man wearing a motorbike helmet fired at the three soldiers, police say

Authorities are hunting the shooter, who fled the scene in Montauban, France

Paris CNN  — 

Two French soldiers died and a third was critically injured after being shot by a black-clad man wearing a motorcycle helmet in the southwestern French city of Montauban, the French Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The defense ministry corrected its earlier report that all three soldiers had died.

“The last one is not dead, but he is in a very bad state,” said ministry spokeswoman Natalie Neveu. The third soldier was hospitalized in Toulouse, she said.

Two of the soldiers, aged 24 and 26, died at the scene of the shooting, officials said earlier.

The three soldiers were at a commercial center when the man approached them, pulled a gun and started firing, city police commander Charles Cauquil told CNN.

The police and army were seeking the shooter, who fled the scene after the attack.

The three soldiers belonged to the 17th parachute regiment stationed in Montauban, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The judiciary police in Toulouse were investigating the shooting, Cauquil said.

Montauban, capital of the Tarn-et-Garonne area, is about 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Toulouse.

CNN’s Per Nyberg, Stephanie Halasz, Pierre Meilhan and Dheepthi Namasivayam contributed to this report.