Update: Hostages freed after standoff at Texas synagogue; gunman dead

SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

COLLEYVILLE (Texas, US) Jan 16 (NNN-AGENCIES) — All four people who were held hostage at a synagogue in the US state of Texas have been safely released, more than 10 hours after a gunman disrupted a religious service and began a tense standoff with police.

Members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team stormed the Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday evening to free remaining hostages after one captive was released unharmed earlier in the day.

Local reporters said they heard the sound of explosions and gunfire, shortly before Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the crisis was over.

“Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe,” Abbott said on Twitter.

Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said the gunman had died, but authorities declined to confirm the cause of his death.

The FBI said they had established the gunman’s identity but said they would not disclose it.

The incident was first reported to the Colleyville Police Department at 10:41am local time (16:41 GMT) on Saturday, during the Shabbat service, which was being broadcast online.

The police deployed SWAT teams and evacuated residents of the area.

Officials said the hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison on charges that she assaulted and shot at US military officers after being detained in Afghanistan.

The punishment had sparked outrage in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who viewed her as victimised by the American criminal justice system. Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas. — NNN-AGENCIES


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