Police end Toulouse hostage drama, detain gunman
French police stormed a bank in Toulouse yesterday, arresting a gunman with psychiatric problems who claimed to be an Al-Qaeda militant and freeing his two hostages after a seven-hour siege.
The 26-year-old, who had taken four bank employees hostage in the morning in the same area where serial killer Mohamed Merah lived and was shot dead by police in March, was wounded in the assault, police sources said.
The two other hostages, both women, had been released earlier, and no police officers were injured in the operation, which took place at 4.45 p.m.
Police shot the man as he was trying to exit the bank holding one of the hostages and waving his gun. He was wounded and returned inside, where he was apprehended.
The gunman, identified as Fethi Boumaza, was wounded in the left hand and right thigh, local prosecutor Michel Valet said, adding that while his injuries were “significant”, his life was not in danger.
The wounds show that the police were looking to neutralise, not to kill, he said.
Nearly seven hours earlier the man had entered the CIC bank, demanded money then fired a shot and taken the hostages, saying he wanted to negotiate with the elite RAID police unit that killed Merah.
Mr Valet said the gunman had claimed to act based on his religious beliefs but had seemed confused.