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Australian police say standoff with man who claimed to have bomb in backpack has ended
SYDNEY (AP) ' Australian police say a tense standoff with a man who was holed up inside a lawyer's office in Sydney claiming to have a bomb has ended.
New South Wales police say they took the 52-year-old man into custody Tuesday night about 12 hours after the standoff began. The man's 12-year-old daughter had been with him in the office, and police say she was released unharmed.
The man had told police he had a bomb in his backpack. Police did not immediately say whether an explosive device was found.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
SYDNEY (AP) ' Australian police were engaged in a tense standoff Tuesday with a man who claiemd to have a bomb, smashed a window and made threats from a lawyer's office in a Sydney building where he holed up for hours with his teenage daughter.
The girl appeared to be well, and police were trying to negotiate with the man, who claimed to have explosives in his backpack, Police Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford said.
Clifford said he did not believe that the standoff had anything to do with the family court that adjoins the building.
The standoff came a month after an extortionist broke into a Sydney home and fastened a fake bomb around the neck of a millionaire's teenage daughter. A suspect in that case was arrested in the United States.
The man involved in Tuesday's standoff issued several demands, but police declined to reveal details and said they had not yet established his motive. They evacuated the building, kept onlookers 100 yards (meter) away and were seen entering with at least one automatic weapon.
"We're working through those demands with him, and we're doing the best we can to secure a peaceful resolution," Clifford told reporters. "The fact that he's there and he's made certain threats is obviously of concern to us."
The man appeared to be in his 50s, and the girl was described in her early teens. Police declined to identify the man publicly for fear of antagonizing him during "delicate and dangerous" negotiations by telephone.
Australian broadcasters showed footage of him looking from a second-floor window shirtless and wearing the kind of wig worn by judges and lawyers in Australian courts. At one point he spat on the wig.
He later swung a glass bottle like a hammer to smash a plate-sized hole in the office window. He yelled through the hole and threw the bottle, then a telephone handset, which was left dangling by its cord.
He extended his hand from the broken window to make a peace sign then threw out a note. Clifford said the note was to police, but declined to comment on its contents.
Clifford said the girl had spoken to police and appeared to be doing well.
"We don't believe there's any specific threat against the girl, but obviously we'd like to secure her release," he said. "The concern is that she's in a situation where we've got somebody with a backpack ' we don't know exactly what's in that backpack so we have to assume that what he's saying is true."
Clifford declined to comment on media reports that the man was arrested Monday at a government building after he was involved in an incident at the state parliament in Sydney. Ten Network television news reported that the man had been charged in 1987 in connection with a protest over an Aboriginal man's death in custody.
"We're trying to reassure him that no one's here to harm him and, likewise, we hope he doesn't harm anyone else," Clifford told reporters. "Negotiators will continue for as long as it takes to try and end this situation peacefully."
Jeremy Buckingham, lawmaker from the minor Greens opposition party, said he had briefly met the man Monday at state parliament.
"He spoke to me about five minutes about legal issues," Buckingham told parliament on Tuesday.
"He said he had information he wanted to show the attorney-general. He did not clearly articulate his issues," Buckingham added.
Betty Hor said she was working at the reception desk at the lawyers' offices when the man approached Tuesday morning and asked to see someone whom Hor had never heard of. The man went upstairs briefly then returned to the reception desk and repeated his request. She repeated that she had never heard of the man he was looking for.
Hor, who spoke to reporters after evacuating the building, said the man threw a book on her desk and told her to call the unknown man and the state attorney-general's department and "tell them I've got a bomb in my backpack."
Hor called police as the man walked upstairs to a lawyer's office with the girl, who called him "Dad."
Hor said he seemed frustrated and angry. She said she had never seen him before.
Five ambulances and two fire trucks were standing by at the scene, while police directed traffic away from the area as the standoff extended through the evening rush hour.
Bitter family court cases have triggered some high-profile crimes recently in Australia, including the murder of a 4-year-old girl whose father threw her more than 260 feet (80 meters) from a bridge in the southern city of Melbourne in 2009.
The father, Arthur Freeman, 37, was sentenced in April to life in prison after a jury rejected his plea of innocence due to mental illness.
A month ago, an extortionist broke into a Sydney home and fastened a fake bomb around the neck of a millionaire's teenage daughter. She spent 10 terrifying hours with the device strapped to her before police determined it was harmless and freed her.
Australian Paul Douglas Peters, 53, is in jail in Louisville, Kentucky, awaiting extradition next month on charges in Australia that include kidnapping and breaking and entering.