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Armed man holds two hostages at French bank, frees four in port city of Le Havre

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A man apparently armed with a handgun was still holding two people hostage at a bank in the port city of Le Havre late Thursday despite having gradually freed another four, police said.

A special police intervention unit was negotiating with the 34-year-old hostage-taker for the captives’ release nearly five hours after the start of the drama.

An official in France’s national police said the man was known to have psychological problems. However, the official did not confirm French media reports that he had put forth confused demands. The official could not be identified by name, in keeping with French custom.

The hostage-taking at the bank in the city center began shortly before 5 p.m.

The four people freed were uninjured.

Le Havre is a major port city on the English Channel coast.

Police have quickly cordoned off the area and are urging the public to stay clear of the bank on Boulevard de Strasbourg in the city center, the local prefecture said.

A police official told AFP that officers from the elite tactical police unit RAID had been deployed.

Local police urged the public to stay away from the Boulevard de Strasbourg.

Le Havre’s new mayor is Edouard Philippe, President Emmanuel Macron’s former prime minister who resigned in early July.

(With AP, AFP, Reuters)

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