French soldier in arms depot gives up

A disgruntled French soldier who had barricaded himself in an explosives depot and threatened to blow it up, has surrendered to the authorities.

    Connantray-Vaurefoy, northern France: Scene of the stand-off

    The man, whose threat had forced the evacuation of about 400 residents from their homes around the depot in northern France, gave himself up calmly on Monday after a night of negotiations, a regional government official said.  

    Regis Le Tohic, a 47-year-old explosives specialist, had barricaded himself inside the depot at Connantray-Vaurefoy in northern France late on Saturday. 

    He had left a note saying he refused to take his compulsory retirement. A special gendarmerie unit surrounded the depot, while the inhabitants of three nearby villages were asked to move out of their homes on Sunday morning. 

    The depot in which he had barricaded himself contained 64 tonnes of anti-tank mines, military officials said. 

    Assurance

    Dominique Dubois, the prefect or governor of the Champagne-Ardenne region of northern France, said Le Tohic gave himself up at 6.45am (0545 GMT), just over an hour after an initial contact was made with him. 

    He said the man had assured gendarmes that he had not booby-trapped the depot before giving himself up, but that it would be necessary to check before the facility could be made secure and residents allowed to return to their homes. 

    Officials said Le Tohic, a mid-ranking non-commissioned officer, was disgruntled because he had not been promoted, which would have entitled him to retire later. 

    He now risks up to three years in jail for his action, local prosecutor Vincent Desclous said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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