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Crime

Berlin bank hostage drama

A Berlin branch of Deutsche Bank has been the scene of a hostage drama. Police negotiated through the night with a young man who demanded money.

Police say a hostage taker at a German bank has freed the employee he was holding and turned himself in after a nine-hour standoff with police.

Berlin police said Saturday officials convinced the 20-year-old man, who had apparently sought to rob the bank Friday evening, to free the 40-year-old employee and turn himself in. Nobody was injured.

Police had deployed several hundred officers to the scene of the Deutsche Bank branch in Berlin's Zehlendorf neighborhood, which was cordoned off in a wide perimeter.

The hostage taker, whose identity was not released, had demanded 1.3 million euros ($1.7 million) and a safe getaway. Local media reported he threatened to use a bomb to blow up the bank.

The man in his twenties walked into the Deutsche Bank branch in southwest Berlin's Zehlendorf district just before closing on Friday and took the bank employee hostage.

Twenty other employees in the bank at the time were able to go to an upper floor and make their escape through a side door.

Police negotiators spent several hours talking to the man by telephone. According to some reports, he claimed to have explosives in a case. Hundreds of police surrounded the bank and cordoned off the area.

At 01.20am local time the hostage taker gave himself up and was arrested by police. The freed hostage was safe and well and would be given psychological support, a police spokesman said.

Deutsche Bank is Germany's biggest bank.

jm/av (dpa, AFP, AP)