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Gunman Takes Hostages At Bank In Ex-Soviet Republic Georgia

Gunman Takes Hostages At Bank In Ex-Soviet Republic Georgia

Tbilisi (AP) An armed man took bank employees and customers hostage Wednesday in the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia, authorities said. According to local media, up to 19 hostages were held inside the bank and after hours of negotiations, the assailant left the building and took three hostages with him, releasing the rest..

Tbilisi (AP) An armed man took bank employees and customers hostage Wednesday in the ex-Soviet nation of Georgia, authorities said. According to local media, up to 19 hostages were held inside the bank and after hours of negotiations, the assailant left the building and took three hostages with him, releasing the rest.

The Georgian Interior Ministry didn’t comment on how many people were taken hostage in the western town of Zugdidi or what demands the hostage-taker had made. Police sealed off the area and launched an operation “to neutralize the assailant,” the ministry said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon. Georgia’s national Mtavari TV channel reported that the captor was armed with a hand grenade and demanding USD 500,000 in cash.

Mtavari TV said it spoke to one of the hostages, who relayed that the assailant was holding 19 people inside the bank. The TV channel aired footage of a room with people sitting on the floor and a man dressed in a military uniform and covering his face holding a rifle. Two hostages were released later in the day, according to local media. On Wednesday evening, several Georgian TV channels reported that the assailant left the building and took three hostages with him. His whereabouts were unknown, reports said.

Two TV channels aired footage of the captor coming out the building with three men in front of him. Reports said that one of the three hostages might have been a local police chief who took part in the negotiations and that all but the three hostages had been released.

The authorities did not confirm these reports. (AP) .

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