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Bank Hostage Standoff Ends in Venezuela, Gunmen Arrested

Venezuelan authorities say they have captured the four gunmen who held more than 30 hostages in a bank for more than 24 hours and fled in an ambulance with some of the captives.

Officials say the getaway vehicle was intercepted Tuesday along a highway where the armed men surrendered to police. The hostages in the ambulance were freed safely. Police say the gunmen carried a grenade and firearms.

The ordeal began Monday when the gunmen tried to rob a branch of the Spanish-owned Banco Provincial in the town of Altagracia de Orituco. The gunmen seized bank customers and employees when a police car pulled up during the robbery.

On Tuesday, the hostage-takers were allowed to leave with five hostages under a deal negotiated with police. As the ambulance sped away, a large crowd headed into the bank to help the captives who had been left behind.

Authorities say police allowed the suspects to flee because the gunmen had threatened to kill hostages.

In the last hours of the ordeal, some of the captives held up signs in bank windows with desperate pleas for help. It was not clear if the robbers took money from the bank with them into the ambulance.