Gunman Wounded, Ending French Hostage Incident, Police Say
Suspect claims al Qaeda allegiance while police say it was an armed robbery gone wrong
CNN Wire Staff
June 20, 2012Editor's note: Are you there? Please share your photos.
PARIS (CNN) -- A hostage-taking incident in Toulouse, France, has ended with shots fired, the gunman wounded and the last two remaining hostages freed, police union spokesman Christophe Crepin said Wednesday.
The gunman, who said he was with al Qaeda, took four people hostage at a bank five hours earlier, police said.
He released one of them, a woman, after about three hours, Crepin said, and a second hostage was released about an hour after that.
A hostage negotiator had spoken to the gunman by phone, he said.
The gunman, described as a man in his 20s or 30s from France's Haute Garonne region, was "very, very agitated" during the talks, Crepin said.
Authorities have not officially identified the hostage-taker, security police spokesman Frederic Tamisier said.
The two remaining hostages were freed after the police intervention, he said, in which the gunman was "not badly" injured.
The gunman fired at least one shot as the situation began, authorities said, and a second shot was fired later.
The incident happened several hundred yards from the scene of a standoff between police and a gunman earlier this year that ended with the gunman dead.
In March, police cornered Mohammed Merah, who was wanted in the killing of seven people. He was killed March 22 by police after the 32-hour siege of a Toulouse apartment.
Crepin said Wednesday's hostage-taking was an armed robbery that went wrong. The hostages were the director of the bank and three employees, he said.
The office of the Toulouse prosecutor, Michel Valet, was in charge of the situation, he said.
Photographer Jenet Gautier, who lives near the bank, said the neighborhood was calm during the incident and the situation was not comparable to the Merah siege.
A high school in the area was evacuated, staff there said.
A local real estate agent said police told her to stay inside and keep her doors locked, she told CNN.
Marie Cluzaud, 28, said she was scared but had not heard any noise connected to the hostage-taking. Streets were blocked off, she said.
In the March standoff, Merah was wanted for the killings of three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish children ages 4, 5, and 7. Two other people were seriously wounded in shootings blamed on him.
CNN's Stephanie Halasz, Saskya Vandoorne, Dheepthi Namasivayam, Ines de la Cuetara and Alex Felton contributed to this report.