Forty staff held in botched French supermarket heist

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For two hours, 40 employees were held hostage by three masked gunmen who left when they realised they were outnumbered.

Ville – Three masked gunmen took some 40 employees hostage at a supermarket in eastern France on Thursday but left empty-handed after two hours, police said.

None of the staff were injured during the attempted robbery at the Super U store in Ville, a town southeast of Strasbourg, but some were in shock and emotionally shaken by the ordeal, said a police spokesman.

The three men arrived at the supermarket at around 5:00 am (0300 GMT) and locked a first employee in a room but they were soon overwhelmed by the dozens of staff workers reporting for work.

"The criminals probably realised that there were just three of them while the number of people held in the room was growing and so they gave up and decided to leave," said Jean-Claude Steinmetz from the local gendarmerie.

"They wanted to sequester the employees and have them open up the safe but they did not get a hold of the keys," said police official Patrick Touron.

The supermarket staff immediately called police after the men left and authorities launched a massive manhunt, deploying units at strategic locations throughout the region.

"The employees were not injured but they are suffering from emotional shock after they were threatened with the weapons and endured a long period of uncertainty about their fate," said Steinmetz.

AFP/ Expatica

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