A five-year-old boy is safe and his abductor is dead after FBI officers stormed an underground bunker in Alabama where the child was being held for nearly a week.

Stephen Richardson, a special agent from the FBI’s Mobile, Ala. office, told reporters Monday afternoon that negotiations with the 65-year-old abductor had “deteriorated” and police believed the child was in imminent danger.

Richardson said the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, was seen with a gun, but police wouldn’t say how he died.

"He always said he'd never be taken alive. I knew he'd never come out of there," acquaintance Roger Arnold told The Associated Press.

There were reports of an explosion at the bunker before the boy was rescued. Neighbours also said they heard gunshots.

The child, identified only as Ethan, appears “physically unharmed,” but he was taken to a hospital to get checked out, police said. He is reported to have ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson called Ethan, who will turn six this week, a “very special child.”

“He’s endured a lot,” Olson told reporters. “It’s a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child.”

Police have said that Dykes boarded a stopped school bus in Midland City, Ala., last Tuesday and demanded two boys. When the bus driver tried to stop him, Dykes allegedly shot him several times and snatched one boy.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., was buried on the weekend.

While the boy was being held in the bunker, police tried to negotiate with Dykes through a ventilation pipe.

Authorities were able to send food, medicine and colouring books into the bunker, and Dykes told them he had blankets for the boy. The bunker apparently had heat and running water.

Ethan’s family received constant updates during the standoff.

After the boy was rescued, FBI bomb technicians were sent to the rural property to check for explosive devices.

Dykes served in the U.S. Navy in the 1960s and received a number of awards, including the Vietnam Service Medal. He had some run-ins with the law decades later and returned to Alabama about two years ago.

He was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on charges that he shot at his neighbours in a dispute over a speed bump last month.

Neighbours also accused Dykes of beating a dog to death with a lead pipe and threatening to shoot children who appeared on his property.

With files from The Associated Press and a report from CTV’s Joy Malbon