Canada gunman holds hostages in Edmonton building

Wed Oct 21, 2009 5:07pm EDT
 
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A man armed with a rifle took walked into a Workers Compensation Board office in the Western Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, on Wednesday and took several people hostage, police said.

As many as nine people were being held captive in the downtown office building about six hours after the hostage-taking began.

Police evacuated the building and spokesman Jeff Wuite told reporters that officers were negotiating with the man, described as a disgruntled compensation claimant.

The Edmonton Journal newspaper quoted an acquaintance of the man as saying he is a former construction worker with a long-held grudge against the board that stems from a botched knee examination.

The acquaintance said the man has also been involved in a lengthy custody dispute with the mother of his child and recently threatened to jump off a local bridge, halting traffic for several hours.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Jones; editing by Rob Wilson)

 
<p>Police prepare a robot outside the Worker's Compensation Building where a gunman is holding hostages in Edmonton, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber</p>