An armed man who claims to have links to al Qaeda took four people hostage at a bank in the southern French city of Toulouse. He has reportedly demanded to speak to police negotiators.
A police official said the armed man entered the French CIC bank on Wednesday around 11 a.m. and fired a gun. No injuries were reported.
Police cordoned off the area around the bank in central Toulouse where the four hostages were being held.
Several hours later police reported that one of the hostages had been released.
French television station BFM said the man claimed to be a member of al Qaeda, although police have yet to confirm the man's links to the terrorist network.
The gunman reportedly requested the elite RAID police force initiate negotiations.
The force led a 32-hour standoff with Frenchman Mohamed Merah in the city earlier this year.
Merah, who also claimed links to al Qaeda, killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in the area. The 23-year-old was shot dead by police on March 22, ending the standoff outside his Toulouse flat.
ccp/ncy (AFP, AP, Reuters)