Gunman holds bus passengers hostage in Rio

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Media captionArmed police surround bus with hostages on board

Military police say they have “neutralised” a man who took a number of passengers hostage on a commuter bus in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

In a tweet, police said all hostages had been freed after a sharp shooter shot dead the armed man.

Police had surrounded the bus which had come to a standstill on a bridge linking Rio with NiterĂ³i.

No passengers are believed to have been injured.

Military police officers, ambulances and a special operations team are at the scene.

At least six passengers were freed before the sharp shooter took aim. Footage showed one of the released hostages fainting as she got off the bus.

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A woman who was released lost consciousness as she got off the bus

At one point the hostage-taker could be seen leaning out of the open door with something resembling a petrol bomb in his hand.

Brazilian media said it was not clear if he had made any demands. He reportedly boarded the bus at 05:30 (0830 GMT) and threatened passengers.

He reportedly told the passengers he was a military police officer. A spokesman for the force, Mauro Fliess, said it had not yet been confirmed if he was an officer or just claimed to be.

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The bridge on which the hijacking spans Guanabara Bay

One news site released a WhatsApp message reportedly written by one of the passengers, saying that the gunman had tied the passengers’ hands and had a petrol can as well as a gun.

Traffic on the bridge has been blocked completely.

Military police had earlier tweeted (in Portuguese) that the special operations team was negotiating with the hostage taker: “Our officers are trained and have great practical experience in this type of situations.”

They had also asked people to remain calm.

It is not the first time a bus has been hijacked in Rio. In 2006, a gunman held passengers hostage for 10 hours before surrendering.

In that case, the gunman’s wife was on board, whom he threatened to kill for leaving him. The man eventually surrendered after relatives were brought in to calm him down.

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