Armed police have moved in to rescue several young children being held hostage in a nursery by a teenager armed with two swords.
Elite officers are negotiating with the 17-year-old as they attempt to free five or six infants who are being held in a classroom along with their teaching assistant.
The young man originally took 20 children, aged between four and six years old, hostage at the Charles Fourier pre-school in Besancon, eastern France, shortly after it opened, according to Sky News.
The pre-school was immediately surrounded by police and the other classes were evacuated. The children's families are being offered psychological and medical assistance.
The incident is taking place at the Charles Fourier pre-school in Planoise, a neighborhood of housing projects with a big immigrant population on the western edge of Besancon.
Pupils were still inside the adjacent elementary school. Principal Alain Lietta said the children in the elementary school were informed about the situation. "We wanted to give them a maximum of honesty and clarity so as not to scare them."
Education Minister Luc Chatel arrived at the pre-school and spoke with the families. President Nicolas Sarkozy did not comment publicly about the hostage-taking, The Associated Press reports.