Four-hour Paris hostage stand-off ends without bloodshed
Man involved claimed to have handgun and bomb and demanded contact with Iranian embassy
French police and firemen secure the area where a man has taken people hostage at a business in Paris, France. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters.
French police secure the street where a man has taken people hostage at a business in Paris, France. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters.
A four-hour stand-off between an armed man who took hostages at a building in a northern district of Paris and police ended without bloodshed on Tuesday evening.
French special forces negotiated with the man, who claimed to have a handgun and a bomb and demanded to be put in contact with the Iranian embassy in Paris, throughout the siege.
The man, described by police as “determined and violent”, claimed to have an accomplice outside the building. First indications were that the incident was not terror-related.
The hostage-taker reportedly entered the building at 45 Rue des Petites Ecuries at around 4pm local time, pretending to be a food delivery courier.
He hit one man, who managed to flee. A pregnant woman also managed to escape and was being treated for shock by ambulance services on the scene.
The hostages were reportedly held in the internal courtyard of the building, which contains a mix of offices and residential apartments. Within minutes of being alerted, police, French special forces with anti-explosive robots, the fire brigade and ambulance services had surrounded the building.
Police sealed off the area and evacuated the Rue des Petites Ecuries.
The man who escaped confirmed to police that the hostage-taker had punched him in the face. The assailant reportedly told police negotiators he had a letter that he wished to give to the Iranian ambassador with the request that the ambassador handed it over to the French authorities.
Around 8pm local time, Paris police officials confirmed the man had been arrested and the hostages released “safe and sound” but shocked. The suspect had reportedly drenched one of the hostages and the room he was holding them in with petrol.
Shortly before 8pm, the French interior minister Gerard Collomb tweeted: “The individual has been arrested and the hostages are out of danger. I salute the professionalism and reaction of the police and emergency services and in particular the BRI of the police prefecture and the Paris fire service whose support was decisive.”
An eyewitness living in the building confirmed police had taken away the suspected hostage-taker, wearing a mask and black clothing.
According to BFM TV, police officials said the hostage-taker’s claims were “confused” and that he had evoked Iran, Islam, 11 September and the recent murder of a young girl. - Guardian