Hostage situation shrouded in secrecy

Efforts to free a 5-year-old boy from a gunman in an underground bunker, where the man took him after killing the boy’s school bus driver, were shrouded in secrecy as the standoff in rural Alabama dragged on.

Police sources said the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team was leading negotiations aimed at securing the boy’s safe release.

However, FBI officials declined to comment.

Dale County sheriff Wally Olson, chief spokesman for local law enforcement officials in Midland City, told a brief news conference that authorities had been in constant communication with the suspect, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes.

Police believe Dykes, a retired trucker and Vietnam War veteran, fatally shot bus driver Charles Albert Poland, 66, last Tuesday and then took one of 20 child passengers hostage during their ride home from school.

Olson declined to disclose any specific demands made by Dykes, saying only that he had allowed authorities to provide colouring books, toys, and medication for the child, who reportedly suffers from autism or Asperger’s syndrome.

He offered no further comment, but one law enforcement source, perhaps explaining why so little information is being shared with reporters, said that Dykes has access to television news.

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