Man takes hostages in French bank

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iol pic wld french police -suspect REUTERS File image - French CRS police in Toulouse.

A man claiming to be a member of al-Qaeda has taken four hostages in a bank in the southwestern French city of Toulouse, including the bank manager, police officials said on Wednesday.

The man took several hostages in a branch of French bank CIC and fired a shot after an attempted armed robbery apparently went wrong, UNSA police union official Cedric Delage told Reuters. Another police source said there were four hostages.

An anti-terrorist police unit was on its way to the scene and the area was sealed off, Delage said. He could not confirm the man's claim to be a member of the al-Qaeda militant group.

In March, a young al-Qaeda-inspired gunman who travelled by scooter shot dead three soldiers, a rabbi and three Jewish children in Toulouse.

The man, 23-year-old Mohammed Merah, was later shot dead by police after a standoff at his home in the city, in the same area as the CIC bank that was under siege on Wednesday.

The Interior Ministry was not immediately available to comment. - Reuters

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