A rabbi who was held hostage at a synagogue in Texas has said he is “grateful to be alive”.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was one of four hostages held at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday.

Hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead when the FBI entered the building.

US President Joe Biden branded the incident “an act of terror” and UK police are working with authorities in America on the investigation.

Two teenagers in Manchester were arrested yesterday evening and remain in custody for questioning, according to PA.

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Posting to Facebook yesterday following the 10-hour stand-off, Cytron-Walker wrote: “I am thankful and filled with appreciation for all of the vigils and prayers and love and support, all of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us, all of the security training that helped save us.

“I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community. I am grateful that we made it out.

“I am grateful to be alive.”

During the incident – which saw police first called at 11am and ended with the release of the final hostages at around 9pm – the man could be heard ranting on a livestream in what appeared to be a British accent.

According to CBS, one male hostage was released around 5pm local time. At 10:30pm Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that all the hostages were out “alive and safe”.

US officials believe Akram had a visa, arrived at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York around two weeks ago and bought a handgun used in the incident.

In an update to reporters on Sunday, Biden said while he did not have all the details it was believed Akram had “got the weapons on the street”, adding: “He purchased them when he landed.”

He said there were “no bombs that we know of”, and that Akram is thought to have “spent the first night in a homeless shelter”.

Akram’s family said they were “absolutely devastated” by what had happened and “do not condone any of his actions”, according to a statement which had been shared on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page.

The statement, attributed to Akram’s brother Gulbar who said he had been involved in negotiating from the UK with his sibling during the ordeal, added that the hostage-taker “was suffering from mental health issues”.

Condemning what had happened, the statement from Akram’s family said: “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

Akram is said to have demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill US army officers in Afghanistan, and is in prison in Texas.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno said they believed the man was “singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community”, and added they will continue to “work to find motive”.

Confirming that the hostage-taker had died, he said there would be “an independent investigation of the shooting incident”.

He said the FBI had been in contact with their legal attache offices in London and Israel for an investigation with “global reach”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the “act of terrorism and antisemitism”, while the British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce said UK authorities are providing “full support to Texas and US law enforcement agencies”.

With reporting by PA.

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