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Standoff at Texas synagogue ends with all hostages safe

Standoff at Texas synagogue ends with all hostages safe

Four hostages were released unharmed after being held in a synagogue in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, in a standoff with police that lasted about 10 hours.

The hostages were taken Saturday morning during a religious ceremony at the synagogue in Colleville.

Police deployed special weapons teams, while FBI negotiators spent hours talking to the hostage-taker.

Explosions and gunfire were heard before the accident ended. Police say the hostage-taker has since died.

According to US media reports, the rabbi of the synagogue was among the four hostages.

The religious ceremonies inside the synagogue were being broadcast live on the Internet when the incident began. One of the hostages was released after about six hours unharmed.

Several hours later, the police led the other three to a safe place.

The incident began around 11:00 local time (16:00 GMT) on Saturday when police were called to the Beth Israel synagogue. The authorities evacuated people from the area soon after.

During a Facebook live broadcast of the religious ceremony, a man was heard speaking loudly.

He could be heard saying, “Call my sister on the phone,” and “I’m going to die.”

He was also heard to say, “Something is wrong in America.” The broadcast was then cut off.

The hostage-taker was also heard calling for the release of Afia Siddiqi, a Pakistani neuroscientist currently serving an 86-year prison sentence in the United States, law enforcement officials told local media.

Siddiqi was convicted of attempting to kill US military officers while she was in custody in Afghanistan.

Barry Columbus, who has attended the synagogue since 1999, said that someone else in the synagogue told him about the accident, so he rushed to watch the live broadcast until he stopped it.

“It was horrific to listen and watch, and even more awful not to know what happened,” Columbus told Reuters news agency.

A woman named Victoria Francis told The Associated Press that she heard the man during the live broadcast blaming the United States and claiming he had a bomb.

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