Armed hostage-taking situation on Brazil bus ends in police standoff

Armed hostage-taking situation on Brazil bus ends in police standoff

An armed man was holding dozens of people hostage on a public bus Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro and threatening to set the vehicle on fire, Brazilian police said.

The Federal Highway Police said negotiations were underway with the man, who was holding 37 people hostage since about 5:30 a.m. on a busy bridge linking the suburb of Sao Goncalo to downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Brazilian television later showed the armed hostage-taker leaving the bus and being encircled by police after a standoff.

Globo News, citing witnesses and police sources, reported that shots were fired and that the hostage-taker had apparently been killed, but there was no official confirmation of this.

Police said they told authorities the man had spilled gasoline in the bus and threatened to set it on fire. Officials said the man has identified himself as a policeman but this has not been confirmed.

The man reportedly did not make any particular demands and appears to have “psychological problems,” a spokesperson for the traffic police said on TV Globo.

At least six hostages were released.

Rio’s elite police force known as BOPE is in charge of the negotiations. A sniper has been placed nearby.

Traffic has been blocked in both directions on the bridge, with hundreds of vehicles waiting in line.

Sao Goncalo is a violent, impoverished suburb separated from Rio by Guanabara Bay.

— with a file from Reuters