Man held after child hostages freed
A teenager armed with two knives who took children in a French nursery hostage has been arrested and all the youngsters freed unharmed.
A spokesman for the mayor of Besancon said: "the hostage-taking is over" and 20 children and their teacher were released safely.
Their 17-year-old captor was detained by a specialist gendarme force brought in.
The hostage-taker, allegedly suffering from depression and asking for a gun to kill himself, was detained by police officers from the elite GIPN force, who slipped into the school as the children were being brought lunch, Education Minister Luc Chatel said.
He was first neutralised with a shot from an electric pistol, said Laurent Gresset, regional chief of the Alliance police union.
"From the start, police understood he wanted to hurt himself more than the children and the teacher," said Mr Gresset. Police talked with the young man throughout the ordeal "so he would turn himself in peacefully and not kill himself."
Besancon Mayor Jean-Louis Fousseret said the boy had been treated for depression but had not taken his medication in recent days.
The boy initially seized a class of 20 children but released 14 throughout the morning, including one who "more or less escaped," said Mr Fousseret. Five or six children and the teacher were believed to be still in the pre-school when the officers entered around lunchtime.
The masked gendarmes were in contact by phone with the teenager before the last group of children was released from Charles Fourier pre-school in Planoise, a area of housing projects with a big immigrant population on the western edge of Besancon.
Families huddled around the school, with children bundled against the cold. The youth did not threaten the children and allowed them to go to the toilet throughout the ordeal, Mr Chatel said from the scene.