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All hostages freed after a standoff in Georgian town of Kvareli

9 September 2021
Screengrab via Formula TV.

The authorities claimed that all hostages, without specifying their number, were out of danger after an hours-long standoff at a bank in eastern Georgia. 

The Georgian Interior Ministry has confirmed that all hostages were freed from a branch of the Bank of Georgia in the town of Kvareli several hours after an armed man entered it, reportedly holding a hand grenade.

According to the Ministry’s spokesperson Ketevan Kovziashvili, as of publication police forces remain in contact with the hostage-taker who remains in the bank. The spokesperson confirmed the attacker had demanded money.

Reports about the hostage situation emerged at 16:00 with the police quickly cordoning the area off and urging the media to follow the instructions of their representatives on the ground.

Earlier, a sanitary worker told TV channel Formula that the alleged robber was wielding a hand grenade. 

According to unconfirmed reports, the armed man took 12 hostages and demanded ₾500,000 ($160,300), details the authorities have not confirmed nor disputed so far. 

An individual who was identified as the father of one of the hostages told Rustavi 2 that some of those present in the bank managed to flee by jumping out of windows.

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This was the second hostage situation in a Bank of Georgia branch this year after a standoff in Tbilisi in April. 

Additionally, in January, a man attempted to rob a branch of Liberty Bank in the western Georgian city of Kutaisi. He was detained within hours.

In October last year, Badri Esebua, who is still at large, fled with ₾500,000 after a long hostage standoff in the Zugdidi branch of the Bank of Georgia. 

[Read more on OC Media: Hostage-taker remains at large after evading police in Zugdidi]