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Australian woman free after hours-long bomb scare

Police and emergency workers stand near a house where bomb squad officers are working in Mosman
Police and emergency workers stand near a house where bomb squad officers are working in Mosman

SYDNEY (Reuters) - A young Australian woman was freed from a suspected bomb collared around her neck early on Thursday after 10 hours of drama that lasted past midnight and captivated the nation with police saying they were still investigating the incident.

The 18-year-old had been trapped for hours in a house in Mosmon, one of Sydney's most exclusive neighborhoods, in what media speculated was an extortion plot.

"We have secured the release of the young lady. She is safe and sound, she is being reunited with her parents as we speak. Our investigation of the crime scene will now begin in earnest," New South Wales assistant police commissioner Mark Murdoch told reporters.

The police said they were dealing with a "very elaborate, very sophisticated device" which they had not been able to confirm as an explosive.

He said the young woman had interaction with the person the police believed to be responsible for the scare, but could not confirm a ransom note had been left at the scene, as media had reported.

"You'd hardly think that someone would go to this much trouble if there wasn't a motive behind it. What that motive is, as I've indicated, we are still not aware," Murdoch said.

Police consulted with several Australian agencies as well as the British military to release the woman, he said, and bomb experts were familiar with the type of device used.

(Rebekah Kebede with additional reporting by Jill Gralow; Editing by Ron Popeski and Ed Lane)

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