Hostage taker in France surrenders after stating Palestinian demands

Gunman who seized hostages at bank in France arrested after making strange demands for Palestinian prisoners, prayer.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A gunman who held seven people hostage at a bank in France gave himself up and surrendered to police, ending a six-hour standoff, RTL News reported Thursday.

The unnamed 34-year-old man entered the bank late Thursday afternoon and threatened to blow it up. Negotiations continued throughout the evening, and the hostage taker was arrested around 10:50 p.m. No injuries were reported.

The man had walked into a branch of the BRED bank located in the city center of Le Havre. During the tense standoff the suspect released the hostages one by one.

A video posted on Twitter showed him emerging from the bank wearing what looked like a cape. As several policemen with shields and drawn weapons covered him during a short, tense encounter, the man was then pushed face-first against the wall of the bank and handcuffed.

A neighbor identified as Manon, who lives next to the bank, told RTL the man “came out with his hands in the air, he was hooded and you couldn’t see who it was. He surrendered calmly and carried the flag of Saudi Arabia on his back.”

“Then it went very quickly: the police handcuffed him, then took him behind the BRED,” Manon said.

“The hostages are released safe and sound,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated.

According to police, the hostage-taker gave two demands that he wanted announced in the media – to “free the Palestinian children unjustly imprisoned in Israel” and to give access to Palestinians under the age of 40 to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem.

While prayer at the mosque is generally unrestricted, Israeli security authorities sometimes impose age limits on those who can attend prayers if they have intelligence reports that Palestinians are expected to commit disturbances.

The man is known locally to the intelligence services to be radicalized and with a history of psychiatric problems, a source close to the investigation told RTL. He reportedly has a criminal record that includes kidnapping, forcible confinement and carrying a weapon.