Paris police call off raid after hostage-taking in church turns out to be ‘false alarm’

Central Paris was gripped by a brief panic on Saturday afternoon, after police cordoned off the area around Etienne Marcel metro station, and an armed unit moved in. Despite issuing an alert that a “security situation” was ongoing, authorities later said the incident was a “false alarm.”

When contacted by RT, the Paris Police Prefecture said that the emergency situation arose as the result of a “hoax call” to a local police station.

Photographs indicating a heavy police presence, including a helicopter hovering overhead, began to circulate on social media at around 4:00pm local time on Saturday.

Rumors quickly emerged of a hostage situation inside a small church, which was highlighted by an alert in a government terrorist warning app. Eyewitnesses claimed that a police raid was commencing, with some reporting sounds of gunfire.

But just minutes after authorities warned people to stay away from the district, there was a new alert indicating that there had been no danger.

Similar false alarm incidents have become a weekly feature of Parisian life, following a string of devastating Islamist attacks throughout France in the past two years.

In July, two Islamic State-inspired French citizens took hostage an 86-year-old Catholic priest in a suburb of Rouen, before slitting his throat.