An armed man who had held two hostages Friday at a post office in Colombes, a suburb northwest of Paris, has since been arrested, and the hostages have been released. Police ruled the confrontation to be an armed robbery, according to local media sources, and ruled out any links to last week’s spate of terror attacks in Paris.
The man was arrested at around 3 p.m., local time, and the two hostages were released hours after the incident started at around 1 p.m., local time, according to Agence France-Presse. Police have ruled out the man’s attacks as extremism, and French media reported that the gunman was in early 30s, with a history of mental illness, and that he had a backpack with him. Police are now investigating contents of backpack.
Police sources said that several post office customers managed to escape when the gunman stormed the grounds. The gunman was the one who apparently called the police. "He phoned number 17 [the French emergency number], saying rambling things," a source told French paper Le Figaro, and the paper reported that no shots had been fired.
The police ruled out any possibility that the attack was terrorism, according to Le Figaro. Sources said that he was a “speaking incoherently” of “heartbreak” and was armed with grenades and Kalashnikovs, said local prefecture to French paper Liberation, according to RT. Helicopters were circling the area, and roads around Charles de Gaulle Boulevard were closed off during the standoff, as negotiators tried to talk to the assailant.
Paris is still shaken after a series of attacks last week that left 17 people dead. It began when Islamic extremists Saïd and Chérif Kouachi attacked the Paris headquarters of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday and killed 12 people. One day later, the Kouachi brothers' alleged accomplice, Amedy Coulibaly, shot a policewoman in the south of Paris. And four more people who were held hostage by Coulibaly in a kosher supermarket were killed on Jan. 9 in a standoff between the police.
French police have arrested 12 suspects on Friday believed to have connections to those attacks. "A total of 12 persons were detained, most of whom were known to the police for common crimes," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said, according to Reuters. They will be questioned about providing possible logistical support of weapons and vehicles to the three gunman involved in last week's shootings.