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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Kill 3 In Shootout At G-7 Site

ROUBAIX, France -- Three suspected armed robbers were killed and two policemen wounded Friday in a shootout with police near the northern French city of Lille, where Group of Seven ministers meet next Monday.

A fourth suspected gangster who fled the scene was later killed in an exchange of fire with Belgian police near the Belgian city of Kortrijk, French police said.

Belgian and French police said they were preparing to storm a house in northwestern Belgium where another of the fleeing gangsters was holding two women hostage.

French officials insisted the clashes, and a related car bombing attempt in Lille on Thursday, involved criminals, not terrorism.

But it was not clear why armed robbers would set a car bomb or fight to the death when surrounded. The officials said there was no link with last year's wave of bomb attacks by Algerian Moslem extremists, nor to the Group of Seven meeting.

"These two affairs have nothing to do with terrorism, they are criminal matters," Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre told reporters.

The first three deaths occurred when police anti-terror units stormed a house in Roubaix after a detonator exploded in a booby-trapped car parked outside the main police station in nearby Lille.

The station is 300 meters away from Lille's Grand Palais, where ministers of the Group of Seven industrial nations open a conference on jobs Monday.

The intense gun battle set the Roubaix house afire, and police later found three charred bodies in the ruins.