Gunman arrested after Ashford Barclays Bank siege

A man in his 30s has been been arrested after staff and customers were held hostage in a bank in Surrey.

Police said officers and the force helicopter were called to the scene at Barclays Bank in Church Road, Ashford, shortly before 1600 BST.

Hostage negotiators made contact with the man, who came out of the bank just after 1900 BST.

No-one was seriously injured, but medical teams were at the scene.

Witnesses said a man who came out of the bank had a gun "put in his face" by police.

Church Road and Fordbridge Road were closed as a precaution during the incident and police said they would remain at the scene for some time gathering evidence.

A witness at the scene said up to 16 hostages were released from the bank earlier and came out with their hands tied behind their backs.

"Presumably they had been tied up by the raider," said Neil Wood, owner of Ashford Glass, situated about 150 yards from the bank.

Mr Wood said the man was believed to have had a sawn-off shotgun.

Witnesses said hostages, some wearing police forensic suits, left the bank in groups - one included three women who were crying.

Others said the gunman sprayed the bank windows with paint to stop people from seeing inside.

A Surrey Police spokeswoman said a number of people were inside the bank at the time the gunman entered.

Following the arrest, Supt Duncan Greenhalgh said it had been a fast-moving incident.

Police were on the scene within minutes of receiving the first reports of a man with a gun entering the bank.

"This was obviously a very traumatic experience for those members of the public and bank staff caught up in it," said Mr Greenhalgh.

"I am extremely pleased with the quick and effective response from officers who brought this situation to a close without injury to anyone, including the suspect."

Shafiul Alam, 26, a waiter in nearby Indian restaurant Peppers, said: "I was around there this afternoon and there was a lot of police activity.

"It is a very quiet bank, with not many staff in it.

"Ashford is a quiet place compared to other towns around here such as Staines and Feltham."

Tim Kiy, Barclays corporate affairs director, said: "We are immensely relieved and happy that all those involved are now safe and able to be reunited with their families.

"Our focus now is the wellbeing of those involved, who will be provided with all the support and counselling they need.

"We would like to thank the Surrey Police for their role in the swift and successful outcome."

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