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Bus passengers held hostage as vehicle hijacked on bridge in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Bus passengers held hostage as vehicle hijacked on bridge in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
A hijacker has taken the passengers of a bus hostage on a bridge in Brazil. Armed police have surrounded the vehicle and begun negotiating with the suspect.

It’s unclear exactly how many hostages are on board the bus, but the man has reportedly freed five people so far during the siege. The hijacker’s earlier claim of being a former military police officer has been denied by the police.

Local media reports describe the suspect as a gunman and claim that he has threatened to set fire to the vehicle, which is parked at roughly the midway point along the Rio-Niteroi bridge. 

The hostage situation began shortly after 6:30am local time when the suspect forced the driver to pull over while crossing the bridge on Thursday morning.  

Units from the Federal Highway Police, the Military Police and the Special Police Operations Battalion (Bope) are all on scene.

“At first, he called himself a military police officer and we are still negotiating to release more hostages because we do not yet know what his real purpose in this matter is,” Federal Highway Police (PRF) spokeswoman Sheila Sena said, as cited by O Dia.

Trapped commuters were forced to abandon their cars and evacuate the scene on foot.

Commuters between Rio de Janeiro and Niteroi have been advised to use ferry services as the bridge is shut down while hostage negotiations continue. 

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