Hostages in northern French town safe, no link to Paris attacks

 Police cordon off the area close to where armed men took hostages in the northern French town of Roubaix.
Police cordon off the area close to where armed men took hostages in the northern French town of Roubaix.AFP

ROUBAIX, France (REUTERS) - A hostage situation in the northern French town of Roubaix was apparently not linked to the Paris attacks earlier this month and was drawing to a close with the hostages now safe, officials said on Tuesday.

Local authorities said the hostages were now in a “secure place”, while a police source told Reuters that the operation would soon be over and that several suspects had been arrested.

France remains on high alert after the Nov 13 attacks in and around Paris in which 130 people were killed, and as a result of this, situations such as the one in Roubaix have taken on a greater significance than usual.

However, police sources said the Roubaix incident most likely concerned a planned armed robbery.

“This is apparently not a terrorist attack, it’s apparently a robbery,” one police source said.

Earlier a police source told Reuters that an "operation is under way after hostages were taken. Gunshots were fired and the neighbourhood has been cordoned off".

"A bank director and his family may have been taken as hostages," said the source.

Medical and fire services confirmed that an operation was under way in Roubaix, which is near the border with Belgium, without giving further details.