Rio de Janeiro | AFP: A gunman holding a bus with passengers hostage in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday was shot dead by police, local media reported, ending the hours-long hijacking. At least 16 people were trapped on the bus after it was commandeered by the gunman on a heavily transited bridge connecting Rio with the neighbouring city of Niteroi.

Heavily armed police including military and snipers had surrounded the bus as they negotiate with the gunman, who G1 news reported was armed with a gun, a taser, and gasoline.

A live broadcast of the scene shows five ambulances parked near the bus, receiving hostages as they are released.

The gunman reportedly boarded the Rio-bound bus at 5:30 am (0830 GMT) and began threatening passengers. Several lanes of traffic on the busy Rio-Niteroi bridge spanning Guanabara Bay have been paralysed during the ongoing hostage situation.

Commuters stopped on the bridge can be seen standing outside their cars watching the hostage situation and taking photos with their smartphones.

Rio state Governor Wilson Witzel tweeted that he was following the situation and was in direct contact with the military police commander. "The absolute priority is the protection of hostages," Witzel said.

The gunman -- a young man wearing a white T-shirt and dark-colored trousers -- poked his head out of the bus at one point, showing his face, G1 reported.

It is not clear if the hijacker has made any demands or what his motivation was for taking the hostages.

This is not the first time a gunman has hijacked a public transit bus in Rio. In 2000, a gunman stormed a passenger bus in a fashionable neighborhood of the city. The hours-long hijacking of bus 174 was later turned into an award-winning documentary. The hijacker and one hostage were killed

Posted By: Talib Khan