Police are continuing to seal off and surround an area around a west London bank this evening, after an armed man is believed to have taken hostages at the Barclays branch.
Surrey Police said the man went into Barclays in Church Road, Ashford, west London, shortly before 4pm.
Witnesses said one man who came out of the bank had a gun put in his face by police and there was speculation he might have been arrested, but this was not confirmed by police.
A spokeswoman said: “A number of people were inside the bank at the time...It is believed that there are still people in the bank.”
Officers assisted by a helicopter were on the scene and assessing the situation. Local roads were closed.
Detective Superintendent Alan Sharp said: “Police were on the scene in Church Road within minutes and are assessing the situation. Public safety remains our first priority and we are advising people to stay away from the area at this time. We will provide you with further updates in due course.”
Local businessman Neil Wood, owner of Ashford Glass, about 150 yards from the bank, said he understood that up to 16 hostages had been released.
“There are thought to be about three staff members who have been let go, identifiable by their shirts,” he said.
“The hostages are looking quite relaxed, they’re talking to the paramedics, and the police seem less anxious than before.”
He added that a number of hostages came out with their hands tied behind their backs - presumably they had been tied up by the raider.