'Radicalised' French hostage-taker demanded Israel free Palestinians

Gunman triggered six-hour siege, which ended without any shot fired


A gunman who took six people hostage at a bank in the French city of Le Havre surrendered to police yesterday after reportedly making a series of demands relating to Israel.  

The man, 34, entered a local branch of the French bank BRED in the centre of the city in Normandy at around 4.45pm and surrendered shortly before 11pm.

None of the hostages, who included both staff and customers, were injured during the six-hour siege, and French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that all were “free, safe and sound”.

The elite anti-terror unit of the French police, RAID, arrived at the scene in a helicopter shortly after 7pm and opened negotiations with the hostage-taker.

French media reported that the man, who was believed to have previous convictions for kidnapping and firearms, as well as links with Islamist groups and a history of mental health problems, made two demands that related to Israel.

“We know that he has been radicalised and suffers a serious psychiatric illness,” the head of the police union SGP Unite told Reuters.

He demanded that Israel “free Palestinian children unjustly imprisoned” and that Israel permit free access to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem to Palestinians under the age of 40.

It is also understood that the hostage taker asked for access to a moped and social media.

Le Havre is a port city on the Normandy coast some 200km north of Paris. It’s mayor, Edouard Philippe, was French Prime Minister until July.   


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