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EDITIONS
 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 17:10 GMT
Siege gunman breaks silence
Armed police
Police marksmen keep their weapons trained on the flat
The gunman at the centre of London's longest armed siege has spoken again with police after a 24-hour silence.

Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Quick confirmed officers had talked with the 32-year-old man for 90 minutes at 1400 GMT on Monday.

The gunman stopped communicating following the escape of his only hostage on Sunday afternoon, despite police using loudhailers and an air raid siren to pile on the pressure.

Cmdr Quick described the conversation as "mildly encouraging".

Metropolitan Police Commander Bob Quick
It is cold, he has no food and there is no electric light or running water. All these things are accumulating and adding pressure

Commander Bob Quick, Metropolitan Police
Police talked to the hostage on Monday, who was said to have been "very helpful" in providing details of what was going on inside the flat.

Cmdr Quick told BBC News 24: "Clearly this individual no longer has the psychological support of someone else in the flat with him.

"It is cold, he has no food and there is no electric light or running water. All these things are accumulating and adding pressure."

Police are still reluctant to storm the flat and hope the gunman will give himself up peacefully rather than forcing him into a shoot-out in the street.

The man has already fired on armed officers when they tried to enter the flat on Boxing Day and shots were fired twice on Sunday.

Cmdr Quick said: "We are not prepared to precipitate events in a way that would lead to an armed man coming out onto the streets."

Hostage traumatised

The hostage, who had been trapped in the house since Boxing Day, was said to be "traumatised" by his ordeal.

Most of the 150 residents, who had been moved for safety, have returned home.

But 43 people remain confined to their homes and are having essential supplies delivered.

The siege is now in its 12th day, surpassing London's longest siege, which was in 1984 at the Libyan Embassy and lasted for 11 days.

It began when officers were fired on as they tried to remove a car from outside the flat for forensic tests.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  BBC London's Paul Curran
"Pressure is growing on the police to bring this to a head"
  Commander Bob Quick, Metropolitan Police
"We have more of an insight into the character and demeanour of the suspect"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

05 Jan 03 | England
05 Jan 03 | England
04 Jan 03 | England
03 Jan 03 | England
30 Dec 02 | England
29 Dec 02 | England
27 Dec 02 | England
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