A boy who was held hostage for six days by a gunman in Alabama is safe, after FBI agents stormed the bunker where he was being held and killed the man who abducted him.

Negotiations with the abductor Jimmy Lee Dykes had begun to deteriorate, prompting the FBI into action over fears for the child's safety.

FBI special agent Steve Richardson told the press later on that he had visited the child, identified only by his first name of Ethan, in hospital, and that he appeared unharmed.

"I can tell you that I've been to the hospital. I have visited with Ethan. He is doing fine. He is laughing, joking, playing, eating, the things that you would expect a normal five to six-year-old young man to do. He's very brave, he's very lucky and his success story is that he is out safe and doing great."

No details have been released of how the 65-year-old hostage taker was killed. One of Dykes' neighbours, Michael Senn, claimed his family called him to come home after they heard an explosion.

When my wife and son heard the explosion they knew immediately something had taken place and they got on the phone and called me and I came straight home. Because we knew that you know, we didn't know what exactly had taken place but we knew something serious had taken place. And we just, we're just so thankful that the young child who was innocent in this situation got out of safe as far as we know at this time.

Dykes, a Vietnam veteran, abducted Ethan last week after boarding a school bus and shooting dead the driver Charles Poland. He had then dragged the child to a storm shelter he had built underneath his home, prompting a tense standoff with authorities for the past six days.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner