A disturbing atmosphere of “déjà vu” possessed the city of Toulouse for seven hours on Wednesday after an armed man claiming to belong to al-Qaeda seized hostages in a bank close to the scene of the Mohamed Merah siege in March.
Although the 26-year-old claimed to be part of al-Qaeda, his family said he was a schizophrenic with no particular interest in religion or politics. It appeared, however, that he had targeted the Côte Pavée area of eastern Toulouse because of its associations with Merah.
The young man seized four hostages on Wednesday morning in a CIC bank branch about 200 metres from the flat where Merah was cornered in March after murdering seven people, including three Jewish children. After a 32-hour siege, Merah was killed by police.
Wednesday's hostage-taker was shot in the leg when an elite gendarmerie force entered the bank in late afternoon. The two remaining hostages, including the bank manager, were freed unharmed. Two other women hostages had been released by the gunman earlier in the day in exchange for water and food.