Standoff as man in vehicle near US Capitol claims he has a bomb

Washington: A man sitting in a black vehicle parked on the sidewalk outside the Library of Congress told police he had a bomb on Thursday, triggering a standoff in the heart of the American capital.

Officials evacuated a number of buildings around the Capitol and sent snipers to the area after officers saw the man holding what looked like a detonator inside the ute, which had no licence plates. Congress is in recess this week, but staffers were seen calmly walking out of the area at the direction of authorities.

The driver of the ute told the responding officer that he had a bomb, sparking a standoff.Credit:AP

Police negotiators were communicating with him as he wrote notes and showed them to authorities from inside the truck, according to three people who were not authorised to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity. They were trying to determine whether it was an operable bomb, the officials said.

A video livestreamed on Facebook appeared to show a man speaking inside a truck parked on a footpath outside what looked like the Library of Congress.

“The revolution’s on, it’s here,” the man said. “I’m trying to get (US President) Joe Biden on the phone.”

Police did not say whether the video was made by the suspect.

US Capitol Police Chief J Thomas Manger said negotiators were “hard at work trying to have a peaceful resolution to this incident”.

“We’re trying to get as much information as we can to find a way to peacefully resolve this,” he said.

The episode began about 9.15am when the vehicle drove up the footpath outside the library, Manger said. The driver told the responding officer that he had a bomb, and was holding what the officer believed to be a detonator.

Two police officers with rifles lay near the Library of Congress.Credit:AP

The nation’s capital has been tense since the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.

Fencing that had been installed around the Capitol grounds had been up for months but was taken down this summer. A day before thousands of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, pipe bombs were left at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee in Washington. No one has been arrested yet for placing the bombs.

The RNC, not far away from where the truck was parked on Thursday, was also evacuated over the threat.

The area was blocked off by police cars and barricades, and multiple fire trucks and ambulances were staged nearby. Also responding were the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The White House said it was monitoring the situation and was being briefed by law enforcement.

AP, with Reuters

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