Man holds Malaysia class hostage with machete

Malaysian paramedics carry an injured hostage-taker in a stretcher to an ambulance after police shot him in the head during an operation to end a hostage drama at a kindergarten in Muar, in the southern state of Johor, Malaysia, July 7, 2011. AP Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Malaysian police stormed a kindergarten and shot a man carrying a machete who held 30 children and four teachers hostage for six hours Thursday in a tense standoff. The hostages were unharmed.

The unidentified man was in hospital in critical condition after sustaining a single bullet wound to the head, said Jalaluddin Abdul Rahman, deputy police chief in southern Johor state.

"All the 30 children, aged between 3 and 5 years, and their four teachers are safe," he was quoted as saying by national Bernama news agency. A Johor police officer confirmed Jalaluddin's comments.

The officer, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the man was wielding a machete and a hammer when he barged into the kindergarten in a residential area in Johor early in the morning, sparking a standoff with police.

The man, believed to have mental problems, forced the hostages to go upstairs in the two-story building. During negotiations with police, the man threatened to kill the children unless he was given a gun, the officer said.

Police special forces later managed to enter the ground floor and were heading up the stairs when the man attacked them with his weapons and a fire extinguisher, the officer said.

Police had no choice but to shoot the man, he said, adding that they were investigating his identity.

Bernama reported that the children were heard singing in what was believed to be an attempt to calm the man.

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