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Hostages freed after ordeal at knifepoint

POLICE in a southeast China city seized a pawn shop security guard and rescued three women he allegedly held hostage for nearly three hours yesterday morning.

Two of the hostages were clerks and the other was a cleaner at the Hudong Rd shop in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, according to China News Service.

The suspected kidnapper, a 22-year-old surnamed Yu, abducted the women by brandishing a cooking knife at about 8:20am and held them in the pawn shop's attic, authorities said. The suspect had worked at the shop for about three years and slept there at night.

A locked security gate initially barred officers from entering the building. But at about 9:50am, police were able to open the gate and went inside the shop to begin negotiating with the abductor.

A large crowd gathered, and police had to expand their cordon to clear the area. An ambulance arrived at about 10:20am while police continued talking to the suspect, who threw a letter out of a window. The contents were not immediately revealed.

Officers were later seen carrying a hammer and iron bar, and at about 10:53am, two vehicles filled with a dozen SWAT officers rushed in with firefighters armed with heavy tools.

The rescuers broke into the attic, and screams could be heard from the hostages inside. The suspect was subdued at 11:10am and taken to a police car.

All three hostages were confirmed safe at 11:13am and were later taken to a hospital for precautionary checks.

Fuzhou police said last night they were still seeking the motive for the abductions.


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