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One dead as hostage situation in northern France ends

Several people taken hostage in the town of Roubaix are reported to be safe but one suspected gunman was found dead. Police said the incident was not linked to the Paris attacks.

The family of a bank manager, who were taken hostage in the northern French town of Roubaix on Tuesday evening were now in a "secure place", local police said.

A group of heavily armed men wielding Kalashnikovs tried to seize the manager of a local bank branch but he escaped before being forced to open the safe.

Instead, the assailants holed up in his house, in an upmarket neighborhood, taking his wife, daughter and 11-month old baby hostage.

A specialist police unit launched an assault on the house two hours into the hostage situation, which left one of the suspects dead. Another was arrested in the back garden. Other suspects are on the run.

Several gunshots were heard in the town, not far from Lille, and close to the border with Belgium.

"This is apparently not a terrorist attack, it's apparently a robbery," one police source said.

No link to Paris attacks

Police sources said the hostage sitation was not linked with the Paris attacks, although the town had made headlines this month:.

The Belgian newspaper "De Standaard" had reported that police in Roubaix had been searching over the past days for a man suspected of having provided explosives and detonators to the Paris attackers. The daily identified the suspect as Mohamed K. - a man who had originally come to France from the Antilles.

France remains on high alert following the mass killings of 130 people on November 13.

ss/mm/msh (Reuters, dpa)