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February 25, 2021

French children released safely after hostage-taking

The hostage-taker is a depressed teenager who has not been taking his medication, officials say.

PARIS – Children who were taken hostage at a school in France Monday were released unharmed and the man who held them was arrested, the mayor of the town of Besancon told CNN. The young man, armed with two swords, had entered a kindergarten and took children hostage in eastern France Monday morning, the French Ministry of Education said.

There were about 20 children, aged 4 to 6, in the classroom when the incident began, and five children and their teacher were held until the incident was resolved, Besancon police told CNN. The hostage-taker is about 17 years old, and had “demands,” the Ministry of Education said, without specifying what they were.

The hostage taker is “depressed,” had been “under medical treatment,” and has not taken his medication for several days, Besancon Mayor Jean-Louis Fousseret told CNN. The mayor did not know of a connection between the hostage-taker and the school. He had released children in three groups before the incident ended, the ministry said.

A security cordon was placed around the school, and police marksmen took positions outside the school, pictures from the scene showed. They did not enter the school during the incident, the mayor said. The incident started at at 8:30 a.m. at the Charles Fourier school in the borough of Planoise and ended about four hours later.

France last had a high-profile school hostage incident 17 years ago. Six girls and their teacher were held hostage for two days in the suburbs of Paris in 1993, media reported at the time. A man calling himself “The Human Bomb” strapped explosives to his body and demanded about USD 18 M to release them. He was killed by police marksmen using guns with silencers, press reports said.

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