Bloomberg News

Man Claims to Have Bomb, Holds Girl, in Australian Standoff

September 06, 2011

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- A man claiming to have a bomb in a backpack has triggered a standoff with police in a western Sydney neighborhood, forcing the closure of a street and evacuation of a building housing lawyers’ offices.

The man, who appears to be in his early 50s, has a young girl with him, who is in her early teens, and has made threats, New South Wales Police Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford said in a televised news conference today. Clifford didn’t elaborate on the sorts of threats that were made.

“Our first priority is to secure the release of the young girl,” Clifford said. The talks with the man “will go on for as long as it takes to reach a peaceful resolution.”

The man, who hasn’t been identified, went inside the building housing lawyers’ offices in Parramatta about 9 a.m. and demanded to see an attorney, Channel 9 News reported. When told the lawyer he sought didn’t work there, the man became agitated and said he had a bomb in a backpack, Channel 9 said.

The building was evacuated and there’s no immediate danger to the public, Clifford said.

Television video showed a bare-chested man with a lawyer’s wig on his head standing at a window. He gave two thumbs up, took off the wig and gave thumbs down.

Footage from Sky News showed police, fire and ambulance vehicles lining the street in front of the building, which is across from a district and family court complex.

Police negotiators are at the scene and have been talking with the man for several hours, Clifford said. The man’s complaints aren’t related to any family court issues, the assistant commissioner said.

Collar Bomb Hoax

“The negotiators are working through each one of those” issues, he said. “It’s a very delicate situation.”

Last month, an 18-year-old Sydney schoolgirl was caught up in a bomb scare when a masked man entered her home in the Sydney neighborhood of Mosman and attached a device to her neck. After 10 hours, police determined the device was harmless and freed her.

A 50-year Australian man was arrested in Kentucky, where he now faces an extradition hearing, scheduled for Oct. 14 in Louisville.

--Editors: Nicholas Wadhams, Iain Wilson

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Schneider in Sydney at jschneider5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net


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