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updated: 9/6/2011 8:13 AM

Australian standoff ends; 1 in custody, girl safe

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Associated Press

SYDNEY -- A man who marched into a Sydney law office with his daughter and said he had a bomb in his backpack was taken into custody Tuesday after a tense, 12-hour standoff with police.

The man's 12-year-old daughter was released and reunited with her family, New South Wales police said. She was distressed, but otherwise unharmed, police said.

Police Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford said bomb technicians were examining the backpack to see whether any explosive devices were in it.

A police tactical team forced its way into the office after negotiations with the man began to crumble, Clifford said.

"Towards the latter part of the time we've been here, those negotiations have started to break down and then deteriorate to a stage where police have taken action to break into the premises and take a 52-year-old man into custody," Clifford said. "He's currently assisting police with their ongoing inquires."

Police have not released the man's name or described the series of demands he issued. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

The drama began Tuesday morning, when the man walked into the reception area of the lawyers' offices. Employee Betty Hor said he approached her and asked to see someone whom Hor had never heard of. The man went upstairs briefly then returned to reception and repeated his request. She told him again that she had never heard of the man he was seeking.

Hor said the man then threw a book at her desk and told her to call the unknown man and the state attorney-general's department and "tell them I've got a bomb in my backpack."

Hor called police as the man walked to a lawyer's office with the girl, who called him "Dad."

Emergency crews rushed to the scene, evacuated the office building and cordoned off the street below. Dozens of police officers swarmed around the perimeter of the building, and ambulances, fire trucks and the police riot team waited nearby.

Clifford previously declined to comment on reports the man was arrested Monday at a government building after he was involved in an incident at the state parliament in Sydney.

Jeremy Buckingham, a lawmaker from the minor Greens opposition party, said the man spoke to him Monday at state parliament about legal issues.

"He said he had information he wanted to show the attorney-general. He did not clearly articulate his issues," Buckingham told parliament Tuesday.

During the standoff, Australian broadcasters showed footage of the man looking from a second-floor window shirtless and wearing the kind of wig worn by judges and lawyers in Australian courts. At one point he spat on the wig.

He also swung a glass bottle like a hammer to smash a plate-sized hole in the office window. He yelled through the hole and threw the bottle, then a telephone handset, which was left dangling by its cord.

He extended his hand from the broken window to make a peace sign then threw out a note. Clifford declined to comment on its contents.

The standoff came a month after an extortionist broke into a Sydney home and fastened a fake bomb around the neck of a millionaire's teenage daughter. She spent 10 terrifying hours with the device strapped to her before police determined it was harmless and freed her.

Australian Paul Douglas Peters, 53, is in jail in Louisville, Kentucky, awaiting extradition next month on charges in Australia that include kidnapping and breaking and entering.