JERUSALEM A bank robbery in Israel on Monday ended with the deaths of five people, including one of the holdup men who apparently shot and killed himself when police launched a raid to free hostages.
Police special forces surrounded the branch of Bank Hapoalim in the southern city of Beersheba after two robbers carried out the botched lunchtime heist in a residential street.
Witnesses reported volleys of gunfire, and a nearby school went into lockdown. During the standoff, police apprehended one of the robbers, but the other remained holed up in the bank with at least one hostage, who later emerged unscathed.
"Four people have been killed and the robber apparently shot himself dead. The scene is now clear," regional police commander Yoram Levy told Israel Radio after his forces raided the bank.
Israeli media reports said three bank employees and a customer were among the dead.
Violent bank heists are rare in Israel. In 2011, a robber killed a security guard in a bank in the centre of the country.
(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alison Williams)