MOSCOW - Police were in talks with a man armed with a hunting rifle who took three people hostage in a bank in southwestern Russia on Monday, security services said.
"He issued a demand to hand him over a certain amount of money," police in the city of Belgorod said in a statement, without saying how much he had asked for.
"There is information that there are three people inside the bank," police said, adding that the building and nearby area had been cordoned off.
Regional police spokesman Yevgeny Kamalov told AFP that talks were under way to release the hostages.
A spokeswoman for the regional branch of the FSB security service identified the lender as the Zapadny Bank.
Earlier on Monday, Russia's Central Bank said it had withdrawn the Zapadny Bank's licence to operate for failing to comply with legislation. It was not clear if there was any connection between the hostage situation and the loss of the bank's licence.
As of April 1, 2014, the lender was the 142th largest bank in Russia according to its assets, the Central Bank said.