'Al-Qaeda man' takes hostages at French bank

'Al-Qaeda man' takes hostages at French bank

A self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda militant took hostages at a bank in French city Toulouse on Wednesday close to where “scooter shooter” Mohamed Merah lived and was shot dead by police in March.

The man fired a shot and took four people hostage, including the bank's manager, in the southern French city and wants to negotiate with the elite RAID police unit that shot dead Al-Qaeda-inspired killer Merah, police said.

“We’re taking measures so we can start a dialogue with the hostage taker,” Toulouse prosecutor Michel Valet said at the scene where police have set up a 200-metre (yard) cordon around the bank.

Parents of pupils at a nearby school have been sent text message telling them to pick up their children, witnesses said, and rapid-intervention GIPN police units have been dispatched from southern cities Bordeaux and Marseille.

The RAID unit that shot dead Merah after he went on a killing spree is based in Paris, hundreds of kilometres to the north. 

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