Hostages freed as siege ends at French nursery

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French police have ended a hostage siege at a nursery school after a youth armed with two swords released four children and their teacher.

Earlier on Monday he had taken about 20 children hostage at the nursery in the eastern city of Besancon, but most were released as police moved in.

The 17-year-old youth was arrested by police. His motives are not yet clear.

French media say the teenager is known to be suffering from depression.

The youth burst into the Charles Fourier school at about 0830 local time (0730 GMT). It stands in a social housing estate.

An elite team from France's GIPN special police force rushed to the scene, along with negotiators. They sealed off the building and neighbouring classrooms were evacuated.

Besancon Mayor Jean-Louis Fousseret said the hostages all came from a class of children aged from four to six.

The children were released gradually - first one, then five, then another eight, French TF1 television news reported.

The hostage-taker said he wanted something but did not specify what, according to Mr Fousseret.

French Education Minister Luc Chatel also went to the nursery and spoke to the anxious families, officials said.