Toulouse Gunman in Custody

All 4 hostages believed to be safe
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2012 7:42 AM CDT
Updated Jun 20, 2012 10:28 AM CDT
Elite police officers from the GIPN brigade arrive at a bank after a gunman took four people hostage in a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse and fired a shot, police said, June 20, 2012.   (AP Photo/Bruno Martin)
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(Newser) – A self-proclaimed al-Qaeda member has been detained after taking several people hostage in a Toulouse bank today, the BBC reports. The gunman fired a shot after first demanding money; he later released two of his four hostages. French media reported he was in custody after more gunfire was heard; the gunman is thought to be wounded but his hostages are believed to be fine. No details yet on his identity, but he is thought to be around 30 and known to authorities, possibly a schizophrenic off his treatment.

The crisis comes just months after Mohammed Merah, another al-Qaeda linked gunman, went on a killing spree in the same French city in March; tensions have run high in the city since then. Today's gunman demanded to speak to the same RAID commando unit that eventually killed Merah, but it was not deployed. His motives remain unclear, but a public prosecutor says he "wishes to let it be known that he is not acting for money, but for religious reasons." A police source says it's not known whether his connections to al-Qaeda are "serious or a fantasy." (Read more Mohamed Merah stories.)

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