Gunman Takes Hostages at Toulouse Bank

Posted June 20th, 2012 at 8:05 am (UTC-5)
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French police say a gunman has taken four hostages inside a bank in the southern city of Toulouse.

Authorities say they are trying to establish communications with the hostage-taker, who reportedly fired a shot. No injuries have been reported.

The neighborhood around the bank, which is near a school, has been cordoned off.

One media report says the man is claiming to be a member of al-Qaida, but officials have said they cannot confirm it.

Toulouse saw violence in March when a radical Islamist gunman killed three children, a rabbi, and three soldiers in a series of shootings that started at a Jewish school. Police later shot him to death in a barrage of gunfire at his Toulouse home. Authorities say he confessed to the shootings before he died.

The shootings sparked raids on suspected Islamist extremists in Toulouse and other locations. France also banned several international Muslim clerics from entering the country for a religious conference in April.