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Bulgaria: robber releases hostages after 19 hours

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The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 7:03 AM

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- A bank robber in the Bulgarian city of Sliven has released five bank employees and an injured guard he held hostage for 19 hours but is refusing to leave the bank, demanding guarantees for his life.

Police said on Thursday that the employees were released unharmed. A bank guard who was shot by the robber has also been released and taken to a hospital. His condition is stable, doctors said.

According to still unconfirmed reports, the assailant is a 27-year-old local resident whose attempt to rob the bank was prevented by a bank clerk who managed to alert police.

Police have cordoned off the area around the bank and are negotiating with the armed man.

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