Israel gunman shoots 4 dead at bank, kills self

JERUSALEM (AP) - A gunman stormed into a bank in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on Monday, killing four people in a gunfight and taking a hostage before killing himself, the police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the shootings happened inside the bank, which was cordoned off with a large number of police officers.

Israeli TV footage showed several ambulances parked outside. Four other people were wounded, one of them seriously.

The police said they were investigating the incident, and backed off from initial claims that it had been a bungled bank robbery.

"We are not convinced entirely at this point that we are talking about a robbery or an attempted robbery but it could be we are talking about an incident where from the start, the murderer came in with an intention to shoot," national police chief Yohanan Danino told reporters.

The man was identified as an Israeli in his 40s who lived in Beersheba.

The bank specialises in mortgages, and Mr Rosenfeld said the police were exploring whether the man had experienced financial difficulties or had any other personal dispute with bank workers. He said robbery also remained as a possible motive.

Mr Rosenfeld said a gunfight broke out and the robber took one hostage, but as a stand-off developed, he killed himself. The hostage, who was lightly wounded, walked out of the bank, Mr Rosenfeld added.

He said the police looked into the possibility that there had been a second suspect, but ruled that out. He also said the police believed that all of the dead were killed by the gunman.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.