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Toulouse bank raider releases one hostage

Three people are still being held hostage by the gunman at a bank branch in Toulouse.

Police at the scene in Toulouse.
Police at the scene in Toulouse.
Image: AP Photo/Bruno Martin/PA

A GUNMAN HAS RELEASED one of four hostages being held in a bank in Toulouse, France today.

Authorities are engaged in negotiations aimed at the safe release of the three remaining hostages, according to Le Monde, although it is not clear yet who the gunman is.

A police source has said that it is not clear if the siege is part of a planned political action or is the result of a botched robbery. Some local media is reporting that the gunman has claimed links to al-Qaida.

The bank branch is located in a district close to home of Mohamed Merah, 29, who was shot dead earlier this year after a 32-hour standoff with police. Merah was accused of killing seven people, including schoolchildren, in three separate gun attacks in March.

Police units from other areas of France have been sent to Toulouse to assist in the hostage operation. A 200-metre cordon has been set up around the bank.

- Additional reporting by the AP

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