Police in riot gear surrounded the entrance of a building in central Paris where a man was holding at least two people hostage in a ground-floor office Tuesday, French authorities said.
There was no indication of a terrorist motive, police said.
There initially were three hostages, but one was reportedly freed shortly after the hostage-taking began at about 4 p.m. in the office of a startup, police union official Yves Lefebvre said.
The freed hostage was reportedly doused with gasoline and hit in the face as he was freed, according to Lefebvre, head of the FO police union. The information could not be officially confirmed.
More than a dozen heavily-armed police officers, firefighters and rescue workers were stationed outside the building where the hostages were being held, located in a crowded neighborhood in the center of the French capital.
The area was evacuated and the street, rue des Petites Ecuries, was cordoned off. Negotiations were in progress.
The male suspect reportedly asked to speak with the ambassador of Iran, Lefebvre said. However, his motivation for such an encounter was unknown.
The hostage-taker also claimed he had an accomplice outside the building with a bomb, according to Lefebvre. Police swept vehicles in the area with a device but found nothing, he said. Video on BFM-TV showed a demining device for bombs at the scene.
Officials at police headquarters would not immediately confirm whether the person holding the hostages was armed or describe the nature of his demands.
Negotiations with the suspect were taking place, according to an Interior Ministry official who couldn’t be identified because the operation was in progress.
Police initially said the hostage scene was unfolding in an office in the building, but soon stopped communicating details to journalists.