Police end Australia hostage drama

Daughter rescued unharmed after being held for 12 hours by her father in lawyers' office near Sydney.

    Police have still not disclosed the hostage-taker's identity, or the demands he made [Reuters]

    A man who took his 12-year-old daughter hostage and claimed to have a bomb in his backpack was taken into custody after a tense, 12-hour standoff with police.

    The man's daughter was released and reunited with her family on Tuesday, New South Wales police said.

    Police said she was distressed but otherwise unharmed.

    Denis Clifford, the assistant commissioner of police, said bomb technicians were examining the backpack to see whether any explosive devices were inside it.

    A police tactical team forced its way into the office after negotiations with the man began to crumble, Clifford said.

    "Towards the latter part of the time we've been here, those negotiations have started to break down and then deteriorate to a stage where police have taken action to break into the premises and take a 52-year-old man into custody," Clifford said.

    "He's currently assisting police with their ongoing inquires."

    Police have not released the man's name or described the series of demands he issued. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

    The drama began on Tuesday morning, when the man walked into the reception area of some lawyers' offices in Parramatta near Sydney.

    Employee Betty Hor said he approached her and asked to see someone whom Hor had never heard of.

    The man went upstairs briefly, then returned to the reception and repeated his request. Hor again told him that she had never heard of the man he was seeking.

    'Bomb in my backpack'

    Hor said the man then threw a book at her desk, and told her to call the unknown man and the state attorney-general's department and "tell them I've got a bomb in my backpack".

    Hor called the police as the man walked to a lawyer's office with the girl, who called him "Dad".

    Emergency crews rushed to the scene, evacuated the office building and cordoned off the street below.

    Dozens of police officers swarmed around the perimeter of the building, while ambulances, fire trucks and the police riot team waited nearby.

    During the standoff, Australian broadcasters aired footage of the man looking from a second-floor window; he was shirtless and wearing the kind of wig worn by judges and lawyers in Australian courts. At one point he spat on the wig.

    Tuesday's standoff came a month after an extortionist broke into a Sydney home and fastened a fake bomb around the neck of a millionaire's teenage daughter.

    She spent 10 terrifying hours with the device strapped to her before police determined it was harmless and freed her.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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