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Child Hostage Drama Enters Seventh Day In Rural Alabama

posted 4 Feb 2013, 13:06 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 4 Feb 2013, 13:06 ]

A 5-year-old boy is held hostage for a seventh straight day in an underground bunker in Alabama as negotiations continue.

MIDLAND CITYALABAMAUNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 4, 2013) (NBC) -   A 5-year-old boy was being held hostage for a seventh straight day in an underground bunker in Alabama on Monday (February 4), and authorities remained tight-lipped about talks to free him from the gunman who shot and killed his school bus driver.

The boy, who is due to celebrate his birthday on Wednesday, was taken from the school bus and locked away in a home-made shelter on the property of Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, aVietnam veteran and retired trucker at the center of the hostage drama in a rural corner ofsoutheast Alabama.

"There's been no significant development overnight. Our communication with Mr. Dykes continues. We are engaged with him around the clock, 24 hours a day. We've tried to create a civil environment in which to communicate but most of our communication has been during the day. We continue to provide food, medication and other items of comfort to the location." Sheriff Wally Olson told reporters on Monday.

Dykes has been identified by the local sheriff's department as the man who last Tuesday fatally shot bus driver Charles Albert Poland, 66, as he tried to protect the more than 20 children on the bus during their ride home from school.

Authorities have identified the boy only as Ethan, who suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. There has been no indication that Ethan has been physically harmed by Dykes, whom the local sheriff's office has thanked for allowing the boy to receive medication, coloring books and toys.

The drama has come amid heightened concerns about gun violence and school safety across America after the December shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at aConnecticut elementary school.