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In what police are saying is an armed robbery gone wrong, a gunman claiming to be linked to Al Qaeda has taken hostages at a bank in the French city of Toulouse, the BBC reports.Toulouse became notorious earlier this year as the scene of a series of Islamist terrorist attacks, with soldiers and Jewish schoolchildren murdered by a masked gunman. The gunman, Mohammed Merah, was later killed after a more than 30 hour siege.
Police say that they are not sure if the new gunman’s claims of an Al Qaeda link are “serious or fanciful”, according to local newspaper Quest online, but he has already fired a shot and taken four hostages. A tense standoff is now taking place.
Incredibly, the raid is said to be only 330 foot from Merah’s apartment, and the gunman is said to be demanding to speak to the police team who killed Merah.
Last year’s shooting was seen as a political boost for both Nicolas Sarkozy’s centre Right UMP party and the Far Right National Front. If the event spirals out of control like Merah’s did, all eyes will be on new President Francois Hollande to see how he handles the crisis.
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