Norway hostage taker releases children

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The Independent Online

A man who took 35 children and staff hostage at a Norwegian nursery school has released all but five children and two adults

A man who took 35 children and staff hostage at a Norwegian nursery school has released all but five children and two adults

A lawyer was on the way to scene and negotiators were continuing discussions with the man, whose identity was not released, a member of the anti-terrorist police force said at an impromptu news conference.

Police had surrounded the fenced-in building in Hjelmeland, a town of about 2,500 people, 185 miles west of the capital, Oslo. Family members were taken to a crisis centre.

Police said they believed the man was armed when he took about 25 preschool children and 10 staff members hostage earlier in the day. No injuries were reported.

"The children who were released are fine, all things considered," Olav Sonderland, chief of police in Stavanger, the region's main town, said. "But using children for something like this, in Norway or anywhere else, is a very serious matter."

There were conflicting reports about a motive. Verdens Gang said the man was believed to be the father of one of the pre-school children, however other most other media reported that he was only interested in the female staff member whom he was holding alone in a rooom.

The main regional newspaper, Stavanger Aftenbladet, said the woman had talked to the police by telephone and said she did not see the situation as dramatic.

"The situation around the nursery school seems calm. The children are allowed to take turns going out in the yard, and they are getting food," local official Sigbjoern Schmidt said before most of the hostages were released. The man had been watching the children from inside the building and police feared he would turn violent if they attempted a rescue effort.

It was not immediately clear where the five children left were being held.

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