Children taken hostage in Johor nursery
Mad hammer-wielding man holds 30 innocent children and their teachers hostage.
According to Johor police, about 30 children and their teachers were taken hostage at a nursery school in Sg Abong, Muar. The seemingly mentally deranged man barged into the Seri Kids kindergarten sometime after 9 am this morning. He was reportedly armed with a hammer and a machete. Local news agency, New Straits Times says that he is believed to be the same man in a similar case in Muar previously.
An anxious crowd of parents, passers-by and the media had gathered outside the double-storey bungalow. Police cordoned off the area and started negotiations with the hostage-taker at about 10 am, in a bid to end the stand off.
"We are still negotiating with the man to release the kindergarten children. He is holding about 30 children," local Police Chief Mohammad Nasir Ramli told the AFP news agency. Initially, the man threatened to kill the children if the negotiators did not give him a gun. Local psychiatrist, Dr Lau Keen Lee, spoke to him from outside of the premises before he appeared to calm down and requested for food. Dr Lau also added that the man and the children were on the second floor of the building.
By noon, heavily-armed troops from the elite Special Actions Forces were brought in from the capital Kuala Lumpur, and ambulances were on standby. At 3.45 pm, after hours of negotiations, police shot teargas into the compound and entered the building. The hostage-taker was taken into custody and the police says all the hostages are safe.
"We have ended the hostage taking. The children and teachers are safe. The hostage-taker armed with a hammer and machete has been taken to a local hospital," one police officer told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.
A father of one of the hostages told AFP that he was informed of the siege at about 10 am and had been anxiously waiting for his son's release ever since. At about 5 pm, all the hostages - the children and their teachers were safely freed. After hours of gut-wrenching wait, the siege was finally over.
Share with us your thoughts on the hostage situation. What are the safety and security measures implemented in our on kindergartens and schools? Are they enough?
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