Paris gunman kills three in bank raid

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The Independent Online

Three people, including a bank manager, were shot dead yesterday in a trail of bloodshed which began with a bank robbery in a shopping mall in the western suburbs of Paris and continued with a car chase across northern France. At least nine other people were wounded.

Three people, including a bank manager, were shot dead yesterday in a trail of bloodshed which began with a bank robbery in a shopping mall in the western suburbs of Paris and continued with a car chase across northern France. At least nine other people were wounded.

Last night an extensive police search was under way for the hooded raider, who managed to shoot his way through a police cordon around the bank after a three-hour stand-off, and then hijack a passing Citroën.

The man shot and seriously injured the driver and then murdered a second driver in an unsuccessful attempt to switch cars. He finally escaped in the Citroën.

Earlier the gunman shot dead the manager and an official of the Caisse d'Epargne savings bank in the shopping centre at Cergy-Pontoise, a new town about 20 miles north-west of Paris. Five other people suffered gunshot wounds. The raider escaped with an unknown amount of cash after taking at least 10 of the bank's customers hostage.

As the gunman made his escape, two more bank clients and two passers-by were injured as he exchanged shots with the police.

Questions were being asked last night about how the robber had managed to get away, despite an enormous police presence in and around the Trois Fontaines commercial centre, which was crowded with Saturday morning shoppers. A part of the centre had been evacuated by the time he left the bank, but shoppers were forced to fling themselves to the ground as he shot back at police officers in the mall's car park.

The raider, wearing a hood with eye slits, is believed to have burst into the bank as soon as it opened at 10am yesterday. He took hostages one by one. A person about to enter the bank raised the alarm after he saw the hooded man inside.

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