Four held hostage in bank by ‘al Qaida’ gunman
Police surround building in French city
FOUR people were being held hostage in a bank in the French city of Toulouse by a man claiming to be linked to al Qaida, police said this afternoon.
The man fired a shot and demanded to speak to the elite police unit which shot Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah.
Merah, who claimed to have al Qaida training, killed seven people in Toulouse in March before he was shot dead by police.
The director of the French bank, a branch of CIC, was said to be among the hostages today.
It was reported that the area around the branch had been sealed off by the security forces. Police said no injuries had been reported so far.
“We do not know if his claim about al Qaida is serious or a fantasy,” a police source said.
One Paris-based British reporter claimed the bank was just 100 yards or so from Merah’s flat.
Merah, a Frenchman of Algerian descent, killed three children and a teacher at a Jewish school, and three soldiers. He was shot dead on 22 March after commandos stormed his flat.
In the wake of the shootings, French authorities launched a probe into whether Merah had accomplices – and into possible Islamist indoctrination practices in prisons.