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Dozens Wounded In Colorado Abortion Clinic Standoff

Three people are dead and nine wounded after a gunman opened fire at a family planning centre in the US state of Colorado.

"I want to convey to the loved ones of the victims, this is a terrible, terrible tragedy that occurred here in Colorado Springs today," Mayor John Suthers told reporters.

"Obviously, we lost two civilian victims, we mourn the loss of a very brave police officer."

Suthers paid tribute to police for getting the gunman into custody without further bloodshed at the Planned Parenthood clinic, where people scrambled into a safe room in a desperate bid to save themselves.

Among the injured are five police, but none in a serious condition.

It was not immediately clear if the abortion clinic had been specifically targeted, but Planned Parenthood has become a lightning rod for criticism by social conservatives.

There had been fears that the unidentified gunman might have explosives with him, and police were carefully combing the scene after the siege came to an end when he surrendered.

Speaking at the scene before the standoff ended, police spokeswoman Lieutenant Catherine Buckley warned that the gunman had taken "items" and bags inside the building with him.

A sheriff's department SWAT team with at least one armoured vehicle and several ambulances had also been on standby, with the immediate vicinity placed on lockdown, and people told to stay indoors.

Quan Hoang, the owner of a nearby nail salon, told CNN that when he heard the gunfire break out, he feared a robbery was under way at a bank in the shopping area.

"And we see cops, SWAT, the bomb squad, a whole bunch of people just trying to take cover around the Planned Parenthood area," he said by telephone.

"An officer came back in and said, 'Is everyone safe'? We asked him questions and he said they've barricaded him inside the Planned Parenthood and he was shooting out from the windows."

A White House official said that President Barack Obama had been notified of the incident by his Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco.

Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains, said none of her staff or patients had been killed or injured.

Cowart said that she did not believe the clinic had been specifically targeted.

"We're very pleased that our own security systems were operating at top notch," she told CNN.

That included rushing into a safe room.

"They were able to hunker down and some got out early throughout the afternoon, but those that didn't were in a safe spot," Cowart said.

AFP

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