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Hostage freed at London AmEx

Scene of the five-hour seige
Scene of the five-hour seige  

LONDON, England -- The female manager of an American Express office in central London has been released after being held hostage by a gunman during an apparent failed robbery.

Officers praised the hostage, who they said had kept calm and developed a rapport with the gunman.

Scotland Yard said other people in the shop managed to escape from the building, in Haymarket, when the man entered at about 10 a.m. local time (0900 GMT) on Thursday.

A panic alarm was triggered inside the building by a staff member, police said.

Police negotiators at the scene held face-to-face talks with the man, who is believed to have been armed with a handgun.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "At 10.11 a.m. police were called to American Express in the Haymarket to reports of a man with a gun.

"Officers have attended and the Haymarket has been sealed off. Armed police and hostage negotiators are in attendance and we are talking to the man."

After five hours the gunman released the victim and gave himself up.

Police said the 34-year-old manager of the bureau, who had been working there for nearly a year, was safe and well.

She is being debriefed by police trying to ascertain the man's motive and mental state.

Police Commander Richard Bryan said: "It would appear that this started out as a robbery.

"It appears that there may have been some sort of suggestion that there were explosives but we have searched the building and that is not the case.

"The woman who was held hostage was treated very well and she is very grateful for that although she is a little shaken."

He added: "We are pleased to say that...she is safe and well. He has treated her very well and she had created a good rapport with him.

"She had quite an ordeal as anybody would in those circumstances but she is fine at the moment."




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