Armed police seal off street in London siege

2012-04-27 14:29

Armed police have surrounded a building in central London and evacuated part of one of the busiest roads in the capital after reports that a man threatening to blow himself up had taken several office workers hostage.

Police said they had sent a hostage negotiator to the office block and imposed a 300 metre cordon around the building after the man threw computer equipment from a fifth floor window.

Witnesses said the man, aged 49 or 50, had taken four people hostage and had threatened to detonate gas canisters he was carrying. Police had no comment on those reports.

A source said the incident was not terror-related and was thought to involve a man who had a grievance against a company.

Police in the capital are on alert as the city prepares to host the Olympic Games and celebrate the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s reign this summer.

One office worker said she had been inside the office block when the man arrived and threatened staff.

“He turned up, strapped up with gasoline cylinders, and threatened to blow up the office,” Abby Baafi (27), said in a video clip posted on the website of The Huffington Post, the US news website that has offices in the area. Staff from the company were among those evacuated.

“He said he doesn’t care about his life. He doesn’t care about anything.”

Hundreds of people were evacuated from the scene, a busy area of shops and office blocks close to the University of London and the British Museum.

Television footage showed police armed with rifles on the roofs of nearby buildings and a long line of police cars, ambulances and fire engines in the street below.

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