Four held hostage in London office
A man has reportedly threatened to blow himself up after taking four people hostage in London.
The man is said to have walked in to HGV training firm Advantage "strapped up with gasoline cylinders".
Police rushed to the scene on Tottenham Court Road — one of the busiest streets in the capital — this lunchtime.
Most of the central London street has now been cordoned off and staff have been evacuated from nearby businesses. Motorists were said to have been pulled from their cars.
Police snipers have taken up position on nearby buildings. Explosives experts are also at the scene.
Cops say they know who the hostage taker is and that he is aged 50. He has been named in reports as Michael Green.
Scotland Yard said a hostage negotiator has begun a dialogue with the man.
He is said to have walked into the offices shortly after noon before taking staff hostage, and making them throw computers and other office equipment out of the window. The street below is now littered with paper.
It is believed the man threatened to blow himself up with gas canisters strapped to his body.
Pregnant Abby Baafi, 27, head of training and operations at Advantage, said a man had come into their offices upset after he failed a course and he was now holding four men hostage.
She said he had demanded his money back, adding: "We were in the office. Someone came in. I recognised him because he was one of our previous customers, but he’s not quite stable, like mentally stable.
“He just turned up, strapped up with gasoline cylinders. He threatened to blow up the office. He said he doesn’t care about his life, he doesn’t care about anything, he’s going to blow up everybody."
She said the man had asked for her but she pretended to be someone else.
She said: "He was specifically looking for me but obviously I said ‘my name’s not Abby, and I’m three months pregnant' so he let me go."
Paul Smith, 55, who works at University College London, said: “I heard shouting and banging and then we got an email saying there was an incident occurring across the road.
“I looked out the window and I saw people chucking computer screens, boxes and paper out of the window.
“Apparently this man was holding staff hostage and making them do this. I could see from their faces they didn’t look happy about it.
“There are police marksman on top of our building and hostage negotiators have gone in. All we have heard is that it’s a man claiming he has got a makeshift bomb strapped to his body."
Sarah O’Meara, from the Huffington Post whose office is in the same building, said they had fled after a woman ran in to alert them.
Mrs O’Meara said: “A woman ran in off the street saying ‘There is a guy with a bomb and he is threatening to blow himself up’. Everyone got out.”
Images on the social networking site Twitter showed various items being thrown from the building, including computer monitors and piles of paper.
She added: “He was throwing stuff out of the windows, it looked like someone with a grievance.
“But then the police arrived and started telling everyone ‘This is serious, this is for your own safety. He has got gas’.”
A police spokesman said it was “too early to say if the suspect was armed or indeed had taken any hostages”.
Joaqam Ramus, who works at nearby Cafe Fresco, said before being evacuated: “There was talk of a bomb and somebody having a hostage in a building.
“All Tottenham Court Road is closed and so are we - the police told us to shut.” - www.thesun.co.uk