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Man held following London 'canister bomb' scare siege

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 28, 2012

Amateur video shows heavily armed, masked police entering a building in central London yesterday after a woman reported that a mentally unstable man had walked into her office threatening to blow himself up

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Police have arrested a man following a siege in central London yesterday after it was reported that he entered a building with gas canisters strapped to him.

The scare sparked a major alert, with tube stations closed, businesses evacuated and one of the capital's busiest shopping streets shut.

The suspect was removed from Shropshire House in Tottenham Court Road by police officers who then began searching the building.

The Metropolitan Police said yesterday afternoon: "We have arrested a man at Tottenham Court Road. A search of the building is under way.

"We are not aware of any hostages at this stage. Search of the building continues on Tottenham Court Road."

The central London street was closed after police received emergency calls at midday.

Scotland Yard sent a hostage negotiator to the scene amid reports that the man was holding people captive inside the building several floors up.

Pictures emerged of computer and office equipment being thrown through one of the office windows.

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

In a YouTube video by Stephen Hull, executive editor of news website Huffington Post UK, Ms Baafi said the man entered her office.

"I recognised him because he was one of our previous customers," she said.

"He turned up, strapped up with gasoline cylinders, and threatened to blow up the office.

"He said he doesn't care about his life. He doesn't care about anything, he is going to blow up everybody.

"He was specifically looking for me but I said 'my name's not Abby' and he let me go."

Ms Baafi said the man failed the HGV training course and wanted his money back.

Police have not named the suspect but said he is 49.

Sarah O'Meara, who also works for the Huffington Post, said they evacuated their offices in nearby Capper Street after being alerted by a woman who ran into the building.

"A woman ran in off the street saying 'there is a guy with a bomb and he is threatening to blow himself up' and that we needed to evacuate," she said.

Rajesh Kalia, of Goodge Law solicitors, who works two floors below where the incident was unfolding in Shropshire House, 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."

He said he overheard someone say there was a man with a jacket with wires coming out of it and that a flamethrower was mentioned.

Scotland Yard were unable to go into details of whether witnesses had seen him walk to the building or whether they were looking for a vehicle possibly connected to him.

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