Hostage Crisis in France: Gunmen Seized Store

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Paris: A total of 18 people have been evacuated from the Qwartz shopping centre where the budget store is by anti-terrorist police after a gunman held the store up earlier today.

Police reported the hold-up in Villeneuve-la-Garenne in the northern suburbs of Paris this morning and said they believe two or three men were holding up the shop.

A police source, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “Around 6:30 am (0530 GMT), two or three armed criminals went into the Primark store for what we think was initially an attempt at armed robbery.”

Television images showed several helmeted elite police officers entering a side door of the shopping center mid-morning. Police said the shopping center and surrounding area are closed to the public because of the security operation.

At 7am one of the employees sent a text message to a friend saying “we are being held hostage by two armed men”.

It is believed they were locked in a safe room inside the shop.

The discount clothing store is in a shopping center adjacent to the Seine River about 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of central Paris.

There was no immediate sign of a political or other motive for the robbery.

The hold-up comes after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January when two Islamist brothers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, murdered 11 journalists and staff at the controversial magazine.

Just two days later a close friend of theirs, Amedy Coulibaly, Took 19 people hostage in a Kosher supermarket in Parisas he demanded the brothers not be harmed.

He killed four Jewish hostages before anti-terrorist police stormed the supermarket and killed Coulibaly.

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