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Hostage situation in France ends with one gunman killed

Philippe Hugen, AFP | Police cordon off the area close to where armed men have taken hostages in the northern French town of Roubaix, on November 24, 2015.

French police killed one man after an armed group took a bank manager and his family hostage in an apparent attempted robbery in northern France on Tuesday, with security officials saying that there was no suspected terrorist link.

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A group of heavily armed men wielding Kalashnikovs tried to seize the manager of a local bank in Roubaix in an effort to force him to open the safe, local prosecutor Frederic Fevre told the press.

When police arrived, the manager managed to escape from his home. However, the assailants remained holed up in his house, taking his wife, their daughter and their 11-month-old baby hostage.

One of the suspects opened fire at police with a Kalashnikov, prompting security forces to return fire, Fevre said.

After two hours, a specialist police unit launched a coordinated assault on the house, freeing the hostages, killing one of the suspects and arresting a second, who tossed his weapon, in the back garden in the upscale neighbourhood.

Gang members now on the run

Other members of the criminal gang made their escape, Fevre added, but he did not specify the exact number now on the run.

Fevre confirmed that one suspect was found dead in the house and that a Kalashnikov assault rifle and pistol were also found at the scene.

"It was a criminal operation" and not associated with terrorism, Fevre told reporters.

The incident came as France remains on a high state of alert following its worst terrorist atrocity since World War II.

Roubaix lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Belgian capital of Brussels, which is on an unprecedented security lockdown.

On November 13, gunmen and suicide bombers killed 130 people in simultaneous terrorist attacks on a concert hall, bars and restaurants in central Paris and on the Stade de France national stadium.

(FRANCE with AFP, REUTERS)

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