Toulouse hostage-taking ends, hostages freed
French police have stormed the Toulouse bank where a man claiming to be an Al-Qaeda member was holding hostages. His prisoners have been freed. The hostage-taker earlier told security forces that he is acting out of religious conviction but police believe that he is mentally disturbed.
The man is reported to be alive but wounded after three blasts rang out as police stormed the bank.
Two women were freed on Wednesday afternoon but two others remained in the bank, as police continued to negotiate with the man, reported to be known by the nickname Boumaza.
Although the man asked for mediation the elite Raid police unit, which killed Mohamed Merah in his flat near the scene of the current drama in March, two other rapid intervention forces surrounded the bank.
Police have identified the man, who is 26, and his sister has said her brother was “frightened of the outside world”.
Police said that he was a schizophrenic who may not have been taking his medicine.
The hostage-taker at first demanded money but, when bankworkers failed to take him seriously, produced a weapon and began the hostage-taking.
He “wants it to be known that he is not at all acting for money but that his motives are based on his religious convictions”, public prosecutor Michel Valet told the press earlier in the afternoon.
He claimed to be a member of Al-Qaeda but police judge the claim to have little credibility.