Toulouse hostage gunman, claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, arrested

News Agencies – June 20, 2012

French police have detained a gunman who held four people hostage at a bank in the southern city of Toulouse for almost seven hours. The man initially demanded money but when he was refused, a shot was fired and the hostages taken. Claiming to be linked to al-Qaeda, he demanded to speak to the elite Raid police unit that killed Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah nearby in March.

He freed two hostages before police stormed the bank and detained him. The gunman was said to have been wounded in the thigh, but not seriously. His two remaining hostages are not thought to have been harmed.

A police union source told the regional newspaper Ouest-France it was not clear whether the man’s claim about al-Qaeda was “serious or a fantasy”. The hostage-taker was believed to be around 30 years old and known to the authorities, Toulouse newspaper La Depeche reported. He was from Castres, to the east of Toulouse, and one source told the paper he was a schizophrenic who had broken off his treatment.