Australia arrest man who held daughter in bomb scare

SYDNEY Tue Sep 6, 2011 8:38am EDT

1 of 6. Police officers arrest a man who held a girl hostage next to the Parramata court building near Sydney September 6, 2011. A man strapped what appeared to be a bomb to himself outside a Sydney court building Tuesday and was holding a young girl, believed to be his daughter, Australian media reports said.

Credit: Reuters/Daniel Munoz

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police on Tuesday rescued a 12-year-old girl from her father who had held her captive with a suspected backpack bomb for almost 12 hours, police and local media said.

The 52-year-old man had earlier walked into a legal office in Sydney, accompanied by his daughter, and started a standoff with police that media linked to a custody battle for the girl.

"Negotiations broke down and we reached a stage where we had to do something," Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford told reporters at the scene after police broke into the office.

Police said the man had been arrested and the girl taken to a waiting ambulance, adding that explosives experts were still studying the backpack. No one else was in the office during the siege, which took place near a Family Court building in outer Sydney.

"We have always operated on the assumption that there was an explosive device in that backpack," Clifford said. "The girl is very upset and appears distressed, which is understandable, but she is otherwise unharmed," he added.

Police would not say whether the girl was the man's daughter, as local media have maintained, but a Sky TV reporter said the girl was heard screaming "That's my dad!" as she was led away from the scene.

(Reporting by Mark Bendeich; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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