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22 July, 2020

Police detain armed man holding 13 people hostage on bus in Lutsk

An assailant, who seized a bus with hostages, lies on the ground after police officers detained him in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometres west of Kyiv, Ukraine

The armed man who held people captive on a bus in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk has been detained and the hostages released, the country's Interior Minister has announced.

"It's over," Arsen Avakov wrote on Twitter, adding: "All are safe".

The minister's posts were accompanied by a video of the hostages being led to safety and a picture of the assailant held on the ground by officers.

Three of the hostages — a child, a pregnant woman and an elderly woman — had been released just 30 minutes earlier.

Thirteen people were held against their will for most of the day.

The attacker, a 44-year old Ukrainian national, seized control of the bus in the morning and threw explosives out of a bus window, but no one was hurt, according to Associated Press. He also fired several shots at a police drone.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who had earlier called the situation "alarming" following reports of gunshots, expressed his "congratulations to everyone who fought all day for the release" of the hostages.

"Human life is the most important value. We haven't lost anyone. Today, family members and loved ones can hug everyone who suffered today on the bus. Terrorism has no place in our country," he added on Facebook.

At a press conference in the town earlier in the day, Avakov had called for caution in how the story is being reported.

"We hope to find a solution and I would really want to ask all of you to be very careful accurate in your comments, including some of the information that is not true or not confirmed that you're spreading about the person who has taken hostages. This doesn't help solve the situation, it only adds tension."

"We talked to the relatives, to the wife, the friends - we have and will do anything to find a peaceful solution," he said.

The centre of Lutsk was sealed off to the public.


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