'Al Qaeda' Gunman Holds Four Hostage in French City of Toulouse
Four people are being held hostage by a man claiming to be an Al-Qaeda operative in the French city of Toulouse - just yards from where Islamic terrorist Mohammed Merah was shot dead by police.
At least one shot was heard soon after the man stormed a Credit Industrial and Commercial (CIC) bank branch at around 11 am French time. The director of the bank, a branch of CIC, is believed to be among the hostages, police said.
France's BFM-TV said the man had asked to speak to the same elite police unit that shot Islamist gunman Mohamed Merah, who died in a hail of bullets just 100 yards from the scene of today's siege.
The regional newspaper Ouest-France says the area around the bank has been sealed off by the security forces.
"We do not know if his claim about al-Qaeda is serious or a fantasy," a police union source told Ouest-France.
BFM also reported that four hostages were inside - the bank branch director and three others - and that the hostage-taker wanted the elite RAID police force to come negotiate with him.
The RAID police force led a 32-hour standoff with Merah, who went on a gun rampage earlier this year executing seven people, including Jewish children and three soldiers.
There are fears the hostage taker wants revenge for the death of Merah and may be goading RAID officers into a shoot-out. (...)