Hostage Situation In Roubaix, France, Leaves Several Injured — REPORT
Reuters is reporting that several people have been wounded in a hostage situation in Roubaix in Northern France. Roubaix Police officials confirmed to the news outlet that there was a major operation happening in the suburban neighborhood of Van Gogh at about 7 p.m. local time Tuesday evening. Police have confirmed that hostages have been taken, prompting authorities to intervene and cordon off the area. Gunfire has also been reported. The situation is ongoing.
(Update: Authorities have confirmed that the hostage situation is over and not linked to terrorism, and that all the hostages were freed.)
According to a police source close to the situation, "A bank manager and his family were taken hostage" (translated by Google Translate). The source also reported that at least one of the hostages sustained several bullet wounds. BNO News reports that the incident is taking place at a residence, and was sparked by a traffic stop that turned violent. Police reportedly stopped a car occupied by heavily armed men, who began firing at the officers.
It is not immediately clear whether the hostage situation is related to the recent manhunt for the suspects involved in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, or if it's related to terrorism in any way. Authorities have not been able to confirm how many people have been taken hostage or if there were any casualties.
Some reports are suggesting that it is not linked to terrorism, and was in fact a bank robbery gone wrong. French news outlet iTele reported that after the bank operation failed, the suspects entered a residence and held the family hostage, presumably for leverage. Police sources have also said that the situation is not linked to the Paris attacks. The Independent reports that several police officers have been injured in the standoff.
Roubaix is a working-class town in northern France situated close to the border with Belgium, where authorities have been raiding local towns in search of Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam. Since Sunday, Nov. 15, Belgian officials carried out 24 raids, which produced 21 arrests, forcing the country to remain under lockdown.
As of Tuesday, Abdeslam remains at large, as Belgian prosecutors issued a new international arrest warrant for yet another suspect whom they believe is related to him. According to a statement from the prosecutor's office, Mohamed Abrini was seen with Abdeslam two days before the attacks in video footage filmed at a gas station in Ressons in northern France.
Less than two weeks after the Paris attacks, France is still on edge as officials continue to search for related suspects. Now, with the current hostage situation in Roubaix, it doesn't appear that tensions in northern France will ease up anytime soon.
This is a developing story ...