A man claiming to have a bomb strapped to his body is holding a young girl hostage in western Sydney.
The man, said to be in his 50's, entered a law firm in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta shortly before 09:00 with a girl aged around 10 who is believed to be his daughter.
The incident began when the man accosted receptionist, Betty Hor, at the entrance of the barristers' chambers, Arthurs Phillip. He demanded to talk to a man whom she had never heard of. When Hor told him that there was no one in the building of that name he "snapped" and threw a book at the reception desk. He said to Hor: "Call the attorney general, I've got a bomb in my backpack".
The stand-off took an odd twist when the man appeared at the second-floor window without a shirt, wearing a barrister's wig. He was then seen communicating with the crowd that had gathered outside and spitting into the wig. He reportedly shouted to police: "I don't care if I die".
Police have been negotiating with the man and have apparently spoken to the girl. The building and surrounding area have been evacuated.
According to New South Wales Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford, "The situation is on going ... The negotiators have been talking to the man for some hours now," he added. "He has made a number of demands. There was a note but I won’t disclose what was in that note."
Speaking out side the court offices, Clifford said he won't feel comfortable until the police have established the contents of the backpack. He also confirmed that they now know the man's identity.
"It’s a very delicate situation," Clifford said. The man's daughter was "as well as she can be", and there was no specific threat against her but police were desperate to secure her release. Ambulances and fire engines are on standby outside.
This incident comes five weeks after a masked intruder broke into a house in affluent northern Sydney, where he attached a bomb to a schoolgirl. The girl spent 10 hours held hostage before police freed her and found the bomb to be fake.