Police arrest man after British bank siege, no one injured

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British police arrested a man on Monday following a hostage-taking at a bank in a London suburb, and said there were no "serious injuries" in the incident.

Police said a suspected gunman took hostages after entering a branch of Barclays bank in Ashford, west London, at around 4:00 pm (1500 GMT), but around three hours later the siege ended and a man in his 30s was arrested.

"Trained hostage negotiators made contact with an individual inside the bank and just after 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) a man came out of the bank and was contained by armed police," said Superintendent Duncan Greenhalgh, of Surrey Police.

"A man in his 30s has been arrested and is currently in police custody. All the people involved are being assessed by medical teams but there have been no serious injuries."

He added officers "brought this situation to a close without injury to anyone including the suspect."

Tim Kiy, Barclays corporate affairs director, expressed relief the siege had come to an end and said everyone involved was safe.

"We are immensely relieved and happy that all those involved are now safe and able to be reunited with their families."

Police had used a helicopter to observe the scene and a bomb disposal unit was parked up a short distance away from the bank.

Local businessman Neil Wood said he understood that up to 16 hostages had been released.

"There are thought to be about three staff members who have been let go, identifiable by their shirts," he said.

Shan Chaudri, who works in an office opposite the building, told the BBC a black Mercedes car and a white transit van were parked outside during the siege.

He added that those released -- some of whom had their hands tied behind their backs with cable ties -- looked "a bit frantic, a little bit scared."

© 2010 AFP

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