WASHINGTON, Dec 23, 2009 (AFP) - A man believed to be carrying explosives has taken several people hostage at a post office in the southwestern Virginia town of Wytheville, the local mayor said Wednesday.
Multiple bomb squads were on the scene and the Federal Bureau of Investigation was leading negotiations, according to officials, while media reports said the man was armed with guns and explosives and had a wheelchair.
Wytheville Mayor Trent Crewe told CNN that there were fewer than five hostages in the building, but added he could not confirm how many people were being held.
"Obviously a very fluid situation," he said. "No demands and no indication for motive and no ID of the suspect, but there are ongoing negotiations currently being handled by the FBI."
The Wytheville Enterprise newspaper, citing police on the scene, said a man had entered the post office with five pounds of C-4, a plastic explosive, strapped to a wheelchair.
Reports of explosives prompted local police to cordon off the area around the post office located on Main Street in the small town.
Details of the hostage taker were limited, and the Wytheville Enterprise reported that he was not wheelchair bound.
State Police Sergeant M.T. Conroy "said that the man had pushed the wheelchair into the building," the newspaper reported.