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Man claiming Al Qaeda ties takes hostages in Toulouse, France

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Bruno Martin/REUTERS

(Read caption) Police block the street at the scene where a man, claiming to be a member of al Qaeda, has taken four hostages in a bank in Toulouse June 20. The man took several hostages in a branch of French bank CIC and fired a shot after an attempted armed robbery apparently went wrong, a police union official reported.

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A man claiming ties to Al Qaeda has taken four hostages in a bank in Toulouse, France – the same area where Mohammed Merah killed seven people earlier this year before being shot dead by police.

After firing a shot, the hostage-taker demanded to speak to the elite police unit, RAID, behind Mr. Merah's death. Merah, a French citizen of Algerian descent who also claimed ties to Al Qaeda, killed three children and a rabbi at a local Jewish school and three French soldiers in a nearby town in March. He was killed by police in his apartment after a 32-hour siege.

Police are not sure yet whether the hostage-taker's Al Qaeda claims are real or "fantasy," according to the BBC. Police official Cedric Delage said the hostage situation evolved from a failed armed robbery at a bank that is only 330 feet from Merah's apartment. The bank is also very close to the barracks where RAID was based during the siege on the apartment.

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