French police storm bank, overpower hostage-taker
By Guillaume Serries
TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) - French police shot and wounded a man claiming to be a member of al Qaeda on Wednesday after he took four hostages in a bank in the southwestern city of Toulouse, prosecutor Michel Valet said.
The hostage-taker, known by police to have a record of psychological problems, was shot after he emerged from the bank with one hostage, prompting him to return inside for shelter, police sources said.
Elite police units then stormed the bank and arrested him, freeing the last two of the four hostages he had taken after an almost seven-hour stand-off.
"The man was overpowered ... he has two significant injuries one on the left hand and the other on the right thigh," Valet told reporters.
The man had earlier released two female hostages after receiving food and water in the early afternoon. All four hostages were in good health, Valet said.
The 26-year-old took the hostages, who included the bank manager, in a branch of CIC bank around mid-morning. He fired two rubber bullets from his gun earlier in the day, Valet said.
"His demands were muddled. We have elements to make us think that we are dealing with someone who was suffering from serious psychological troubles and this act was linked to that. It is difficult to say what made him do this given his religious claims were poorly defined," the prosecutor said.
It was the latest drama to hit the Toulouse region after a young al Qaeda-inspired gunman shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in March. Continued...