French Soldier Surrenders After Standoff

A French soldier who locked himself in an explosives depot and threatened to blow it up surrendered Monday, ending a three-day standoff, the Interior Ministry said.

Officials said Regis Le Tohic, a 46-year-old warrant officer and explosives expert, had been angry about being forced to retire.

Le Tohic, who worked at the facility near Fere-Champenoise, a town about 60 miles east of Paris, seized control of the depot Friday, officials said.

Col. Patrick Chanliau, an army spokesman, said officials had found a letter outside the depot from Le Tohic demanding that the army reconsider his request for a promotion that could have prolonged his career.

Under French law, a soldier holding the rank of warrant officer must retire at age 47. Le Tohic turns 47 on Dec. 17, Chanliau said.

Le Tohic turned himself in after receiving assurances that his case would be reviewed, officials said.

Police sealed off the area around the warehouse, which held mainly anti-tank mines, and redirected flights. Rescue workers evacuated 400 area residents beyond a one-mile safety perimeter.

Le Tohic's lawyer, Gerard Ducrey, said his client was an "extremely calm" man who had cracked under "an accumulation of pressures" related to fear of losing his job.