Armed man who took hostages in bank arrested

June 29th, 2010 - 3:42 am ICT by IANS  

London, June 29 (IANS) The police have arrested a gunman who held a dozen people hostage for over three hours Monday evening in a Barclays Bank branch in Ashford, a town in Surrey near the Heathrow Airport.
The gunman entered the bank at 4 p.m. (GMT) brandishing a sawn-off shotgun and then handcuffed the staff and customers using plastic cable ties and made them put on white boiler suits. One of the hostages said he ordered them to black out the windows of the bank using spray paint.

A witness said that a “shaven-headed, white portly man” finally emerged from the bank smoking a cigarette before he was handcuffed and led away.

None of the hostages was injured and no shots were fired, police said.

“I was in the bank when a man came in and told everyone to get down and get their hands above their head. He told one guy to lock the doors. Then he handed out white boiler suits to staff members and told them to spray paint the windows. I started to have an anxiety attack and the man asked if anyone suffers from heart problems to tell him. I told him I suffered from anxiety attacks and he let me go,” a hostage named Lianne told The Guardian.

The tactics used by the gunman had echoes of Hollywood film ‘Inside Man’, starring Denzil Washington and Clive Owen, in which the hostages were dressed in white boiler suits to confuse police officers as to whether they were innocent people or not.

The police had laid siege to the bank, cordoning off all the exit routes and stopping traffic on Church Road where the bank was situated.

Superintendent Duncan Greenhalgh of Surrey Police said: “This was a fast moving incident and police were on the scene within minutes. Trained hostage negotiators made contact with an individual inside the bank and just after 7 p.m. (GMT) a man came out of the bank and was contained by armed 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.”

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