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French police end hostage drama at nursery school

Video by FRANCE 2

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-12-13

Police arrested a sword-wielding teenager at an infant school in the eastern French city of Besançon on Monday after he had taken 20 schoolchildren and a teacher hostage.

A 17-year-old youth was arrested in the eastern French city of Besancon on Monday, after police negotiators convinced him to release the 20 schoolchildren (aged four to six) and a teacher he had taken hostage.

The teenager, who was said to be mentally unstable, had burst into the Charles Fourier infant school at 8:30am armed with two swords.

Jean-Louis Fousseret, the city’s mayor, told FRANCE 24 that shortly after the frightening incident had started the teenager allowed a teacher’s assistant to leave with some of the children.

The hostage taker then asked the assistant to come back. She “courageously” returned to the classroom and came back out with another group of released pupils, according to the mayor.

Gérard Bergerot, who lives next to the nursery school, said firefighters and ambulance crews quickly arrived on the scene and a crowd of around 80 people had gathered in front of the school.

Parents were waiting outside for their children, Beferot told FRANCE 24.

A team from France’s elite GIGN police force was at the scene and cordoned off the area while negotiators worked on getting the remaining infants released.

At one point the hostage-taker demanded a gun with which to commit suicide, French media reported.

The motivations of the youth were unknown, but Fousset and other sources said the hostage-taker was taking medication for psychological problems and that his doctor had been contacted by police.

The city’s mayor said a psychological trauma centre was established for the children and parents in a gymnasium close to the school.

Date created : 2010-12-13