Hostage-taker in France surrenders to police; reportedly made demands of Israel
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Hostage-taker in France surrenders to police; reportedly made demands of Israel

Gunman who took 6 captive in city of Le Havre called for release of ‘unjustly imprisoned Palestinian children,’ report says; police source says he has psychological problems

Members from France's elite tactical police unit RAID gather outside a bank during a hostage situation in the port city of Le Havre, northwestern France, August 6, 2020. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP)
Members from France's elite tactical police unit RAID gather outside a bank during a hostage situation in the port city of Le Havre, northwestern France, August 6, 2020. (Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP)

A gunman who took six hostages in a bank in the northern French port city of Le Havre gave himself up to police, officials said late Thursday.

“The hostages have been freed, safe and sound,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said, hours after an elite RAID police unit was deployed to the scene.

According to French broadcaster RTL, the suspect demanded that Israel free “unjustly imprisoned Palestinian children” and allow Palestinians free access to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The man had a history of psychiatric problems and had been in trouble previously for kidnapping and firearms offenses, a source close to the case said. Quoting police sources, Reuters said the man is believed to have Islamist ties.

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.

The gunman, aged 34, had entered the premises at 4:45 p.m., a police official told AFP. The man took five or six people hostage, but eventually released all but two of them, according to reports.

A special police intervention unit negotiated with the hostage-taker for the captives’ release for over five hours.

Another police source said the man had a handgun.

Le Havre is a major port city in western France.

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