Gas canister man storms office
Police attending a siege in central London have arrested a man and begun a search of a building at the scene, Scotland Yard said.
One of the country's busiest shopping streets, Tottenham Court Road, was closed as a man allegedly wearing gas canisters reportedly stormed into an office and threatened to blow himself up.
Scotland Yard sent a hostage negotiator to the scene amid reports the man had held people hostage inside the building several floors up. Pictures emerged of computer and office equipment being thrown through one of the office windows.
A police spokesman said it was "too early to say if the suspect was armed or indeed had taken any hostages" but businesses and nearby buildings were evacuated.
Abby Baafi, 27, the head of training and operations at Advantage, a company which offers HGV courses, said the man targeted her offices and was currently holding four men hostage. Ms Baafi said the man failed the HGV training course and wanted his money back.
In a YouTube video by Stephen Hull, executive editor of news website Huffington Post UK, Ms Baafi said the man entered her office and called himself Michael Green.
"I recognised him because he was one of our previous customers but he is not quite stable - mentally stable," 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."
A police spokesman said: "Officers are in attendance at an incident in Tottenham Court Road where a man, believed to be aged 49, is causing a disturbance. Police were called at 11.59 on Friday 27 April to an office building on Tottenham Court Road. Items, including electrical equipment, have been thrown out of a fifth-floor window. A 300m cordon has been put in place and a negotiator is on scene." Police are advising people to keep clear of the area due to congestion. No injuries have been reported. It is unclear if there are other people in the building, the force said.
It is not known how the suspect arrived at the scene, whether by vehicle or on foot. 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.
Actress Frances Barber, 53, was among those who were affected by the incident, ordered to stay within a building as events unfolded. Barber, who appeared in the last series of Doctor Who, kept her followers updated on her Twitter feed. She pointed out she was not detained in the office in question but in a building nearby and police would not let her leave. Barber later added that she and others had been allowed out and were being "herded" north towards Camden.