An armed man has been shot dead by police after he hijacked a bus and took 37 passengers hostage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The masked man, believed to have petrol with him was threatening to burn the bus from the inside after he hijacked it on the Rio–Niter√≥i Bridge in the Brazilian city.

Local media reports that police surrounded the vehicle and tried to negotiate with the hijacker.

Armed man takes 37 bus passengers hostage before being shot dead in Brazil

Brazilian security forces shot the hijacker dead, bringing the incident to a close.

None of the hostages was harmed during the four-hour hijacking, Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witschel told reporters at the scene. He took to Twitter to congratulate the police for an "exemplary performance" but said he regretted the death of the hijacker.

Armed man takes 37 bus passengers hostage before being shot dead in Brazil

A passenger claimed the hijacker had been armed with a pistol and a knife, and never explained the reasons for his actions. Police told reporters the incident appeared to be "premeditated".

The incident began at 5.30am local time, reports say. The bridge is currently closed in both directions.

Armed man takes 37 bus passengers hostage before being shot dead in Brazil

Earlier, while the hijacker still held the passengers hostage, Sheila Sena of the Federal Highway Police told globo.com: "We have a man who has identified himself as a military policeman. He is threatening to throw gas on the bus, putting passengers in danger.

"We are in negotiations with him to release more hostages, we do not know what his real purpose is."

The bridge that connects state capital Rio with the city of Niteroi across the bay is a major commuter thoroughfare, and the hijacking during the morning rush hour caused massive traffic jams on the bridge.

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