Man arrested following Tottenham Court Road office 'siege'


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The Independent Online

Police have confirmed today that a man had been arrested following a three-hour siege on Tottenham Court Road.

Police said a search of the building where the siege took place was carried out, and that they have not identified any hostages.

Businesses were closed and shoppers evacuated earlier this afternoon on one of the country’s busiest streets amid initial reports that a hostage situation was underway.

Police were called just before midday following reports of a man throwing computer equipment and office furniture from the fifth floor of a building.

The man was reported to have threatened to blow himself up after entering a building wearing gas canisters.

A section of the road was closed to the public and a 300m cordon put in place.

Thousands of people were evacuated and Goodge Street Tube station was closed as a precaution.

Abby Baafi, 27, the head of training and operations at Advantage, a company which offers HGV courses, said the man targeted her offices.

Today there was no answer at Advantage Training Services.

Police said the man involved in the incident was thought to have a grievance against the company.

A hostage negotiator was also said to be on the scene.

A spokesman said it was not clear whether "the suspect was armed or indeed had taken any hostages".

Joaqam Ramus, who works at nearby Café 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."

Rajesh Kalia, of Goodge Law solicitors, who works below where the incident took place said,

"We were in the office and suddenly we were told by the police that there was some problem in the building and asked to evacuate immediately.

"The police were very clear about the instructions. There was no panic or anything but they were very firm and got everybody out of the building very, very quickly.

"I overheard someone say that there was a man in there with some wires coming out of his jacket.

"Now, I don't know how much of that is true but that's the impression they gave us."

"We heard some shouting in the stairwell and then were asked to leave by the police so I think the police got there pretty quick."

Staff from the Huffington Post UK were told to evacuate their building – which is nearby - after reports that the man had a gas canister and was threatening to blow himself up.

The social networking site Twitter had images of various items of office equipment being thrown from a building, including computer monitors and piles of paper.

Police confirmed this afternoon that officers had attended an incident in Tottenham Court Road where an unnamed 49-year-old man was causing a disturbance, and subsequently an arrest was made.

There were no reports of any injuries.

Commander Mak Chishty, of the Metropolitan Police, speaking this afternoon said the suspect was a local man.

He also confirmed that there were no hostages in the building when the man left.

The officer said a search of the building would continue as police were concerned that the suspect had explosives or flammable materials.

The suspect is now in police custody.