A man threatened to detonate a bomb in a New Zealand town

Police shut streets in a New Zealand town Thursday after a man threatened to detonate a bomb and demanded to speak to Prime Minister Helen Clark.

The threat came in Tauranga, 543 kilometers (337 miles) north of the capital, Wellington, which has been the scene of a bitter political fight between rival candidates in the campaign for New Zealand's general elections Saturday. Area commander Inspector Murray Lewis said the man had gone into the Devonport Towers hotel and threatened to harm himself. Police were speaking to the man, he said.

Clark told reporters she had been briefed on the incident. She said she did not know if the man's demands were political and it was possible he was simply a disgruntled individual. The security alert was close to the area where right-wing lawmaker Winston Peters of the New Zealand First party was to address a rally.

Peters, the lawmaker who represents Tauranga in New Zealand's Parliament, has been in a tough campaign against Bob Clarkson of the opposition National Party for the seat. Armed police were patrolling deserted streets close to the hotel where the man who made the threat was holed up.

New Zealand Press Association reported that Tauranga resident Cathy Stuart said businesses near the hotel had been told by police the man was on the fifth floor and had a briefcase full of explosives, AP reports.

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