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Man held for taking hostages in London

United Kingdom,Terrorism, Fri, 27 Apr 2012 IANS

London, April 27 (IANS) A man, strapped with gasoline cylinders, Friday took four people hostage in a London building and threatened to blow up an office when he failed to get a heavy goods vehicle licence, a media report said. The 50-year-old was later arrested.


The incident took place at Tottenham Court Road in central London. Hundreds of people were evacuated from nearby buildings, and snipers, explosive experts and a police negotiator reached the spot to attend to the crisis situation, Sky News reported.


The man, identified as Michael Green, was said to be "shirtless", and reported to have gas canisters tied on his body. He reportedly threatened to blow himself up.


The man was reported to be angry, and had a grudge against someone in the building over the licence issue.


Police were called in when the man threw computers, furniture and papers from the fifth floor of the building, called Shropshire House.


Police confirmed it was not a terrorist incident. They said a man was "causing a disturbance and criminal damage at an office building".


Abby Baafi, 27, head of training and operations at Advantage, a company which offers heavy goods vehicle (HGV) courses, said the man had targeted her offices.


In a video posted on YouTube, she said: "What happened is, we were in the office and someone came in. He asked him what his name was and he said it was Michael Green. I recognised him because he was one of our previous customers but he is not quite stable - mentally stable. He turned up, strapped up with gasoline cylinders, and threatened to blow up the office."


"He said he doesn't care about his life. He doesn't care about anything, he is going to blow up everybody. He was specifically looking for me but I said 'My name's not Abby' and he let me go."


The usually busy shopping area, came to a standstill as police began a search. A 300-metre police cordon was put in place. Staff from news website The Huffington Post UK were among those evacuated.


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