Police officials were negotiating with the man, who first demanded 10 billion lire (pounds 3.5m) in exchange for freeing the hostages, then lowered his demand to about 6 billion lire.
The man was holding the manager and two employees. A fourth employee, who was released after three hours, alerted police. The drama at a branch of Banca Popolare di Milano began just before closing time, and was still going on last night. No other customers were apparently in the bank when the hostage-taking began. The hostage-taker was identified by authorities as Domenico Gargano, 35, a Sicilian who lived near Milan and had a criminal record for theft and extortion. Apparently he became angered when turned down for a mortgage because of his criminal past. AP, MilanReuse content