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FRANCE: Al-Qaeda gunman takes hostages at Toulouse bank

20 Jun

Source: Toronto Star

What I thought was going to be another lovely day ended up being ruined upon reading that another person (100% chance they’re Muslim) who claims links to Al-Qaeda took some hostages this morning at a bank in Toulouse. The same place where the Muslim terrorist; Mohamed Merah, killed 3 Muslim paratroopers and a rabbi and 3 Jewish children.

I hope this one ends the same way the other did.

TOULOUSE, FRANCE—A gunman took four people hostage Thursday in a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse and fired a shot, police said. French television reported that he claimed allegiance to the Al Qaeda terrorist group.

Tensions have been high in Toulouse since March, when a gunman who police said claimed links to Al Qaeda killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the area. Those were France’s worst terrorist attacks in years, and led to a crackdown on suspected Islamic radicals around France.

Toulouse killings

The gunman entered a CIC bank branch in central Toulouse at about 11 a.m. and took the bank director and three other people hostage, two police officials said. The officials said a single shot was fired but no injuries have been reported so far. The bank is in the same neighbourhood where Mohamed Merah, the suspected gunman in the March attacks, was shot and killed by police.

The officials could not confirm the report on France’s BFM television that the hostage-taker claimed ties to Al Qaeda. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

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.

“We don’t know yet exactly what this individual wants, but it seems to be an armed robbery that went wrong,” Delage said.

“You have to ask why somebody who claims to be from Al Qaeda would go to a bank when there are better locations to target if you have a grudge against the state.”

Anti-terrorist police brought in from the nearby cities of Bordeaux and Marseille were at the scene and the area was sealed off.

The neighbourhood around the bank is cordoned off, and neighbouring buildings were evacuated, including children from a nearby school. Officers from a specialized police unit, the GIPN, arrived at the scene.

The gunman’s identity is unclear.

The Paris headquarters of co-operative bank CIC is in contact with police in Toulouse, bank spokesman Bruno Brouchiquan said. He would not comment further. The bank describes itself as the second-largest retail bank in France and the leading bank insurance group, with thousands of branches in France and around the world.

The hostage-taker said he wanted the elite RAID national police force to come negotiate with him, police said. The RAID police force led a 32-hour standoff with Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, in his Toulouse apartment. Merah was shot in the head in a gunfight at the end of the standoff.

French authorities described Merah as an Islamic radical who had trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

French intelligence officials said at the time that they found no operational ties between Merah and Al Qaeda despite his claim.

His brother is in custody after being handed preliminary charges of complicity to plotting the killings at a Jewish school in Toulouse and of paratroopers in Toulouse and nearby Montauban.

Toulouse has been hit in recent weeks with a number of short-lived hostage situations, including a drama last week at a local weather forecasting office, but none resulted in casualties.

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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in France

 

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