Malaysian police end dramatic kindergarten siege

Malaysian police have ended a dramatic siege on a kindergarten by shooting the man responsible in the head after a seven-hour standoff.

The man had taken 30 pre-school children and four teachers hostage but all were rescued unharmed after a sharpshooter ended the crisis in southern Malaysia with a single shot, AFP reported.

"We have ended the hostage taking. The children and teachers are safe. The hostage taker armed with a hammer and machete has been taken to a local hospital," a local police official said on condition of anonymity, AFP said.

The hostage taker - who The Sun reported was armed wih a machete and a hammer - was alive but in a critical condition on Thursday.

Attempts to get the man to surrender, including by a local psychiatrist and desperate family members, had all failed.

Heavily armed police had surrounded the two-story bungalow that houses the kindergarten, in Muar town in southern Johor state, and tried to coax the hostage-taker to free the children, AFP reported.

The Star newspaper said the man had told police negotiators to give him a gun or he would kill the children.

In March last year a shocking siege occurred in the same town in which a man armed with a hammer barged into a school and bludgeoned three six-year-olds.

The New Straits Times newspaper said that the same man was responsible for both the March incident and the current hostage situation but police were not immediately able to confirm the report.