A man is holding dozens of people hostage on a bus in Rio de Janeiro, and is threatening to set it alight.

At least six of the 37 hostages have been released, with police confirming that they had recounted how the man had poured petrol in the vehicle, before threatening to set it on fire.

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Armed teams have surrounded the vehicle, which is currently stationary and blocking a busy bridge linking the suburb of Sao Goncalo to central Rio, and a sniper has been placed nearby.

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Police say they have begun negotiating with the alleged hijacker, who is reportedly armed with a gun and a knife, but he hasn’t yet made any specific demands.

He is said to have identified himself as a policeman, but this has not been confirmed.

Police near the scene
The bus was hijacked since early on Tuesday morning

A spokesperson for the traffic police told Brazil’s TV Globo that the man appeared to have “psychological problems”.

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Videos and photos posted to social media show hundreds of vehicles backed up on the bridge as traffic has been stopped in both directions.

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