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Japan detains hostage-taker after hours-long standoff

SAITAMA (AFP) – Japanese police have detained a suspected gunman reportedly in his 80s who holed up in a post office yesterday with several hostages.

After an hours-long standoff in Warabi, outside Tokyo, police finally detained the man late yesterday evening.

“The man has been detained. Details will come later,” a spokesman for Saitama Prefecture Police outside Tokyo told AFP.

His motive was unclear but police believe he was also involved in an incident at the hospital that wounded two people and reports said that a fire in an apartment block may also be linked.

He had holed himself up in the post office at around 2.15pm (0515 GMT) in possession of “what appears to be a gun”, the city authorities had said on their website.

Later, as police negotiated with the man, television footage showed a woman in her 20s, believed to have been a hostage, walking out of the post office shortly before 7.30pm. The Asahi Shimbun daily reported that police stormed the building around 10.20pm, took the man into custody and confiscated his gun.

“This is a quiet neighbourhood. I can’t believe something like this is happening,” resident Tetsuo Sasaki, 70, told AFP.

“I used that post office just yesterday,” said his wife Reiko Sasaki, 64. “I could have been at the wrong place at the wrong time. I could have been the target.”

Police officers guard the area around a post office where a suspected gunman had taken hostages in Warabi city, Japan. PHOTO: AFP