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Edmonton police spokesman Jeff Wuite said they received a report Wednesday of a man armed with a hunting rifle inside the Workers' Compensation Board building in downtown Edmonton, which is in the western Canadian province of Alberta.
"Now that we have communication with the suspect, we feel good that we can move forward to resolving it," Wuite said. "We want to find out what this guy wants and what we can do to end this peacefully."
Police negotiators were prepared to take their time talking to the man, he added.
Wuite couldn't say how many hostages were involved.
But a worker who was evacuated from the fourth floor, four levels below where the standoff was taking place, said she was told there were nine people involved. The woman, who would only give the first name Nadia, said the evacuation was orderly.
Emergency police dispatchers received a call from the building at about 8:45 a.m. and quickly brought in tactical officers and negotiators.
Workers' Compensation Board spokeswoman Dayna Therien said they believe the gunman is a workers' compensation claimant.
WSB spokeswoman Jennifer Dagsvik said the eight-story office building has been evacuated, but that she couldn't confirm whether there were hostages.
Dagsvik said about 700 people work at the building, including case managers and claim adjudicators.