Dutch hostages safe as gunman dies
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- An eight-hour standoff in Amsterdam's tallest building ended when the hostage-taker shot himself dead, Dutch police say.
Eighteen hostages walked free unhurt after the 59-year-old gunman killed himself, police told reporters.
Eight of the hostages in the Rembrandt Tower had been released earlier in the afternoon. The remaining 10 left the building unscathed after he shot himself in a ground floor toilet.
Around 240 other office workers who had been trapped in the building during the standoff were also able to leave.
Dutch public television said earlier it had received a statement from the hostage-taker in which he said he was resisting "manipulation by sellers of widescreen television sets" who were guilty of "creative nonsense."
Negotiators had been in regular contact with the man, armed with an automatic weapon and a handgun, during the course of the day, police said.
A case the gunman had brought into the building was being examined by a bomb squad.
"It's a good outcome from the point of view of the hostages but a sad one regarding the death of the hostage-taker," Amsterdam's Chief Public Prosecutor Leo de Witt told Reuters.
The man stormed into the tower waving a firearm as hundreds of office staff started work in one of the city's major business districts at around 0820 GMT.
Police in bullet proof vests and with sniffer dogs ringed the tower, where some of the world's leading financial firms have offices, including Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Dutch bank ING.
The tower, which dominates the city's eastern skyline, once served as temporary headquarters for Dutch electronics firm Philips before the firm moved to another building nearby. Local television reports indicated the man may have chosen the wrong building.
Several windows were plastered with messages written in black ink. The messages included: "We lie" and "We mislead."
Each letter was written on an white piece of paper and glued to a window pane.
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