1:30pm Friday 27th April 2012
© Press Association 2014
Police have been called to a potential hostage situation after one of the country's busiest shopping streets was closed.
Businesses and shoppers were evacuated from Tottenham Court Road in central London at midday.
Scotland Yard said it had sent a negotiator to the scene after reports of a man throwing furniture out of a window several floors up. A spokesman said it was "too early to say if the suspect was armed or indeed had taken any hostages".
Joaqam Ramus, who works at nearby Cafe Fresco, said before being evacuated: "There was talk of a bomb and somebody having a hostage in a building. "All Tottenham Court Road is closed and so are we - the police told us to shut. We don't know what it is but it seems someone has a hostage."
Staff from The Huffington Post UK were evacuated from their building after a man reportedly wearing a gas canister threatened to blow himself up in the adjoining building, they said.
People near the scene reported shots being fired and said computers and equipment had been thrown out of the windows of the office block housing the Huffington Post. The firm's UK executive editor Stephen Hull posted a video on Twitter of an office worker who saw the man enter the building.
Abby Baafi, 27, the head of training and operations at Advantage, a company which offers HGV courses, told Mr Hull the man had targeted her offices and was currently holding four men hostage.
In a video posted on YouTube, she said: "What happened is, we were in the office and someone came in. He asked him what his name was and he said it was Michael Green. I recognised him because he was one of our previous customers but he is not quite stable - mentally stable.
"He turned up, strapped up with gasoline cylinders, and threatened to blow up the office. He said he doesn't care about his life. He doesn't care about anything, he is going to blow up everybody.
"He was specifically looking for me but I said 'My name's not Abby' and he let me go." Ms Baafi said the man failed the HGV training course and wanted his money back.
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