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Man arrested after central London 'hostage situation'

A man has been arrested after buildings in central London were evacuated amid reports of a hostage situation and a bomb threat.

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An armed police officer guards the scene in central London on April 27, 2012 amid reports of an armed man causing a disturbance. (BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON, UK – Police have arrested a man in central London following a siege in the capital which sparked a major security alert.

Snipers, armed police and explosives specialists were deployed after a man alleged to be carrying a bomb entered the offices of a truck-driving training firm on Friday and threatened to blow himself up, according to the BBC.

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In a video posted on YouTube by Stephen Hull, an editor at The Huffington Post, a witness who works at Advantage HGV says the man walked into the company’s office on Tottenham Court Road around noon (07:00 EST) with gas canisters strapped to his body.

Abby Baafi, the head of training and operations at Advantage HGV, said she recognized him as a customer of the firm, which organizes HGV (heavy goods vehicle) training course.

According to Sky News, there were earlier reports that four people had been taken hostage by the man, named as Michael Green, who became angry after he was not provided with a HGV licence and had a grudge against someone in the building over the matter.

The magazine OK! reports that two well-known British actors were caught up in the so-called siege, prevented from entering or exiting the Tottenham Court Road area while police sought to restore order. The television actress Frances Barber wrote on her Twitter feed: "am in middle of hostage sitch in Tott. ct. Road. Can't get out. We are all hostage inside."

Police were called when Green started throwing computers, furniture and paper from the fifth floor of the building, which is in one of the busiest parts of the UK capital.

Actor Jamie Campbell Bower of the Twilight Saga and Harry Potter films wrote: "Just saw what looked like more office equipment coming from window. Police line stopped me from getting closer."

Businesses and shoppers were evacuated from Tottenham Court Road and police cordoned off the area, The Guardian reports.

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A Scotland Yard spokesman declined to comment earlier as the situation was unfolding, but a source had told The Daily Telegraph Green was not a terrorist and it was not considered a “serious” incident.

“It appears at this stage that the man either has mental health problems or has a personal grievance against a company,” the source said. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120427/hostage-situation-central-london-sparks-police-alert