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PARIS, Dec 15 (Reuters) - European stocks briefly trimmed their gains on Monday after four gunmen took a hostage in an apartment in the Belgian city of Ghent.
Police were called after the four armed men were seen entering a building in the Dampoort district of the city on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for prosecutors said that the four had taken a man hostage there.
News of the hostage-taking emerged after a security scare in Australia hit just hours earlier. An armed man walked into a downtown Sydney cafe, took hostages and forced them to display an Islamic flag, stoking fears of a jihadist attack.
Pan-European equities trimmed their gains but were still in positive territory at 1106 GMT, with traders citing the hostage situation in Belgium. The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was up 0.3 percent at 1,325.87 points, while Belgium's BEL 20 was up 0.2 percent. (Reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by Lionel Laurent)