The harrowing ordeal of four people taken hostage in a bank in Toulouse is over after the man claiming links with Al-Qaeda who held them at gun point was finally detained by police.

Shots were fired during his capture by elite police officers from Marseille and Bordeaux, according to the Press Association, but no hostages were hurt. It has been reported that the gunman was hit in the stomach, but it has not been confirmed how seriously he is hurt.

Several blasts were heard before his capture, which could have been stun grenades.

french elite police

Elite French police officers on the scene

The man, named locally as "Boumaza", went into the bank this morning at 10.10am local time and demanded money, but was refused, so he pulled out a gun and took hostages, according to the BBC.

It also reports that the director of the bank was among those taken hostage.

AFP reported that one of the hostages - a woman in her 20s -had been freed at lunchtime.

It is believed that one of the hostages, a woman, was allowed to leave for food and water mid-way through the drama.

The man had demanded to speak to the elite RAID national police force that shot Islamist terrorist Mohammed Merah, who went on a shooting spree in the city earlier this year, killing seven people.

There were reports that two shots were heard, one this morning and another this afternoon - but the origin of the gunfire has not been confirmed, according to AP.


Agrandir le plan

Huffington Post France reports the bank is on 72 avenue Camille Pujol, not far from where Merah had lived.

Sky News reported that a secondary school close to the bank had been evacuated while the whole area was cordoned off by police.

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The bank, as seen on Google Maps

A police source told French paper Ouest-France they did not "know if his claim about al-Qaeda is serious or a fantasy."

A police official told AP that no injuries had been reported.

police officers outside

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