A police officer takes aim with a rifle next to others a outside a jewellery store where two people are being held hostage by a gunman attempting a robbery.
A police officer takes aim with a rifle next to others a outside a jewellery store where two people are being held hostage by a gunman attempting a robbery. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Third hostage crisis in France as thief locks down jewellers

A THIRD hostage crisis is underway in France after a gunman locked himself inside a jewellery shop he had tried to rob with two members of staff.

Officials in the city of Montpellier have stressed that the situation has no links with terrorists or today's events in the Paris region.

The brothers who massacred 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were killed in a gunfight with police at a print works in Dammartin and gunman Amedy Coulibaly died after killing four of his hostages.

A spokesperson for the Montpellier police said the attacker has locked himself inside the shop, which has been surrounded.

Local newspaper Midi Libre reported that the city centre has been sealed off around a jeweller's shop on La Rue du l'Argenterie.

Negotiators were in discussions with the gunmen and no shots have so far been fired, Midi Libre reported.

Officials have said that there is no link whatsoever with terrorism or events in Paris but panic reportedly spread through the city centre, where passers-by and shoppers were evacuated from nearby streets and street lights were turned off, leaving it in the glow of emergency vehicles' lights.

Additional reporting by PA



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