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US Capitol lockdown lifted after man shoots himself

A two-hour lockdown at the US Capitol building has been lifted after a man shot himself dead in the vicinity of the building. Few lawmakers were in town on the weekend but the city was crowded with tourists.

US Capitol Police said Saturday that the complex had been locked down as a precaution after shots were heard in the area.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said in a statement that the person believed to have fired the shots had turned the gun on himself.

"Confirmed: self-inflicted gunshot by neutralized subject," Schneider said, later adding that the shooter was male.

At a police press conference later, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the man was carrying a "social justice" protest sign when he shot himself, on the western side of the building.

Dine added that his force investigated a backpack and case that the man had with him, before reopening the legislative building and visitor center. He declined to comment further on the man's identity, motive or the sign, pending an investigation.

String of security breaches

The all-clear was given within a couple of hours of the initial lockdown, but some nearby streets remained closed as investigations continued, the US Senate Sergeant at Arms said in a post on Twitter.

"There are no indications at this point of terrorism," a US official told domestic broadcaster NBC News.

The shooting came at a time when few lawmakers were in Washington, as Congress is out of session this week. However, the city was full of tourists taking in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

Several high-profile security incidents have hit buildings in Washington D.C. of late. In 2013, police shot and killed a woman as she rammed security barricades in a car headed for the Capitol Building. In the same year, a government contractor opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 13.

A man also recently pleaded guilty to running into the White House in September armed with a knife before being tackled, a security breach that prompted changes in the US Secret Service.

msh, pfd/cmk (AP, Reuters, dpa)