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Gunman slain in TV channel hostage drama

US police shot and killed a man who was waving a gun and apparently fitted out with explosives after he took three people hostage in the headquarters of the Discovery Channel yesterday.

The hostages -- two Discovery Communications employees and a security guard -- were unhurt after their four-hour ordeal at the hands of James Lee (43), who had railed against the channel's environmental programming for years.

Police chief Thomas Manger said tactical officers moved in late last night after officers monitoring Lee on security cameras at the building in Silver Spring, Maryland, saw him pull out a handgun and point it at a hostage. An explosive device on his body detonated when police shot him, Mr Manger said.

Police were trying to determine today whether two boxes and two backpacks had also contained explosives.


NBC News reported that after its producers called Discovery's general number, a man identifying himself as Lee got on the phone and said he had a gun and several bombs.

"I have several bombs strapped to my body ready to go off. I have a device that if I drop it, if I drop it, it will ... explode," the man said. He said he built the bombs in about three weeks. "I did a lot of research. I had to experiment," he said.

Mr Manger said police spent several hours negotiating with the man after he entered the suburban Washington building at about 1pm.

None of the 1,900 people who work in the building were hurt.