LILLE, France  - A gunman shot dead two people at a nightclub in northern France Sunday in an apparent revenge attack after he was kicked out of the disco, police and local officials said. The man, who has a police record, was thrown out of the Theatro disco in the heart of Lille but returned about 3:00 am and opened fire with a Kalashnikov-style weapon, a local official said. Police were searching for him and an accomplice, who drove him away from the club. A cloakroom attendant, aged 26, and a 27-year-old customer were killed and another six people including the club bouncer were injured and taken to hospital.

Police said the attacker, who appeared to have acted alone, had fled in a car after the shooting, and that a manhunt had been launched.

"The suspect is a man aged 32 who lives in Tourcoing near Lille. He has already done several years in prison for petty theft, drug dealing, breach of trust and violence," said Benoit Lecomte from the police union Alliance.

"He has a long history of delinquency and a violent profile," he said, adding that the suspect may have fled to nearby Belgium and "may even try to flee further afield, for example to Africa".

An AFP journalist at the scene said police had barred access to the disco. Several empty cartridges lay littered nearby and the walls were pockmarked by bullets.

"We were on the dance floor when we heard a big bang and there was a great stampede," said one nightclub goer who gave his name as Jeremy.

"At first I thought it was a firecracker. I went to the entrance to see what was happening and I saw a person lying on the floor in a pool of blood," he said, adding that about 200 to 300 people were in the club at the time.

"We are disgusted, this is not the Bronx here," said another habitue, who gave his name as Mohamed.

He said the shooter was "crazy, a client who came back with a weapon" just because he "couldn't bear being chucked out by the bouncer".