Boy rescued in Alabama hostage standoff

Officials say hostage-taker killed after holding five-year-old in an underground bunker in the southern US state.

    A gunman holding a five-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker in the US state of Alabama has been killed, and the child was rescued without injury, a local law enforcement official said.

    "It's all over," said the official on Monday, who asked not to be identified by name because he had not been authorised to discuss the operation that led to the successful rescue of the child. "The boy is OK."

    The rescue came on the seventh day of a standoff in a rural corner of southeast Alabama involving a suspect identified as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, a retired trucker and Vietnam war veteran.

    Dykes seized the boy last Tuesday after boarding a school bus near his home and killing its driver with four shots from a 9mm handgun, local sheriff's department officials said.

    The law enforcement source said a stun or flash grenade was detonated as part of the operation to free the boy.

    "Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," said Steve Richardson, the FBI special agent in charge in Mobile, Alabama.

    It was not immediately clear how Dykes died, however.

    Law enforcement officials have offered few insights about Dykes and their negotiations with him ahead of the rescue on Monday afternoon.

    Earlier in the day, Dale County sheriff Wally Olson said the gunman had a "very complex" story to tell.

    "Based on our discussion with Mr. Dykes, he feels like he has a story that's important to him, although it's very complex. And we try to make a safe environment for all for that," Olson said, without elaborating.

    The drama in Midland City, Alabama, came amid heightened concerns about gun violence and school safety across the United States after the December shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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