Armed man held bus full of passengers hostage on Brazil bridge and threatened to set fire to vehicle

Jon Sharman

A man has been arrested after holding dozens of people hostage on a bus in Brazil and threatening to set the vehicle on fire, according to local police.

The man poured petrol on the bus, the Federal Highway Police said in Rio de Janeiro.

Negotiations with the man, who was armed, ended with him leaving the bus and being encircled by police officers, according to images broadcast on Brazilian television. It was unclear whether he was injured.

The incident began on the busy bridge linking central Rio with the suburb of Sao Goncalo at about 5.30am local time.

Officers said the man identified himself as a policeman, although this has not been confirmed.

Authorities said the man had not made any particular demands and appeared to have “psychological problems”.

Rio’s elite police force known as BOPE was in charge of the negotiations. A sniper was placed nearby.

Traffic was blocked in both directions on the bridge, with hundreds of vehicles waiting in line.

Sao Goncalo is a violent, impoverished suburb separated from Rio by Guanabara Bay.

Some 37 people were thought to have been trapped.

Additional reporting by agencies