An armed man took several people hostage in a bank in the French port city of Le Havre on Thursday, police said.
According to French broadcaster RTL, the suspect is demanding that Israel free “unjustly imprisoned Palestinian children” and allow Palestinians free access to the Temple Mount in Jerualem, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Quoting police sources, Reuters said the man is believed to have Islamist ties.
However, an official in France’s national police told the Associated Press that the man was known to have psychological problems.
The official did not confirm French media reports that he had put forth confused demands. The official could not be identified by name, in keeping with French custom.
There was no immediate information on the suspect’s identity.
The man took five or six people hostage, but eventually released all but two of them, according to reports.
A special police intervention unit was negotiating with the 34-year-old hostage-taker for the captives’ release nearly five hours after the start of the drama.
The man entered the premises at 4:45 p.m., a police official told AFP, adding that officers from the elite tactical police unit RAID had been deployed.
Another police source said the man had a handgun.
Le Havre is a major port city in western France.