Saturday 25 January 2020

Video: He came in and claimed he wanted to kill us all, says London siege victim

Armed police officers on
the scene where a man
threatened to blow
himself up in an office
building on Tottenham
Court Road yesterday.
Armed police officers on the scene where a man threatened to blow himself up in an office building on Tottenham Court Road yesterday.

Victoria Ward, Andrew Hough and Emily Kent Smith

THE main target of a man who brought central London to a standstill yesterday after threatening to blow himself up has described how she escaped with her life by pretending to be pregnant.

Abby Baaf (27) told how the man had burst into the Tottenham Court Road offices of the Advantage HGV training company with canisters strapped to his waist and announced that he was going to kill everyone inside. The bomb threat prompted a huge police operation as snipers took to nearby rooftops, helicopters hovered overhead and more than 1,000 people were evacuated from surrounding buildings.

The West End was brought to a standstill as police cordoned off the block and negotiators were brought in to communicate with the would-be bomber.

A bare-chested man, believed to be Michael Green (49), was eventually arrested three hours after the incident began, with nobody harmed.

Ms Baafi yesterday described the moment the man arrived in the office as "the most terrifying of my life". The head of training and operations said she recognised him immediately as he had completed three HGV courses with the firm, failing every one, at a cost of several thousand pounds. "I have never felt so scared. There were 12 of us in the office. He just came in and said he wanted to kill us all.

"He just turned up, strapped up in gasoline cylinders. He threatened to blow up the office. He said he doesn't care about his life, he doesn't care about anything, he's going to blow up everybody."

Ms Baafi said the man had specifically been looking for her. But she lied to him in order to escape. "I said, 'My name's not Abby and I'm three months' pregnant,' so he let me go."

The assailant was also reportedly carrying a blowtorch. Witnesses said he let most of the people out of the building, but kept four people back, including a director, believed to be James Clifford, and three salesmen.

Computers, televisions and piles of paperwork were seen being thrown out of the company's fifth-floor window.

Dozens of police descended on the area, ordering drivers to abandon cars and telling passengers to get off buses. Motorists were urged to avoid the West End and two Tube stations were closed.

As the incident unfolded, office workers streamed out of buildings and were ushered more than 300 metres away. Others were ordered to stay inside.

Frances Barber (53), an actress who appeared in the last series of 'Dr Who' was ordered to stay indoors. She used Twitter to keep followers updated: "We are all hostages inside. Police won't let us out. All shops, cafes evacuated." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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