BREAKING: Ukraine Bus Hostages Freed, Gunman Arrested

An intercity bus with passengers who have been taken hostage by an armed man is seen in the city of Lutsk, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital Kiev, on July 21, 2020. YURIY DYACHYSHYN / AFP

 

The siege of a bus with 13 passengers by an armed man on Tuesday has ended with all the hostages freed, Ukrainian police said.

“The hostages are freed! The man who took hostages and kept them on a bus in Lutsk has been detained,” the interior ministry posted on Telegram.

The crisis lasted over 12 hours with police managing to first escort three people from the vehicle after lengthy and tense negotiations with the perpetrator.

READ ALSO: Armed Man Holds Passengers Hostage On Bus In Ukraine

The SBU security service said a total of 13 hostages were freed and no civilians were harmed in course of the incident.

“The terrorist has been identified as Maksym Kryvosh, who disseminated extremist views,” the service said in a statement.

Interior minister Arsen Avakov posted photos and videos on his Twitter of people being escorted by security officers and a man in jeans lying face down on the asphalt with hands behind his back.

 

Armed Man Holds Passengers Hostage On Bus In Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen are seen at the scene where a man took around 20 passengers hostage on a bus in western Ukrainian city of Lutsk, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital Kiev, on July 21, 2020. YURIY DYACHYSHYN / AFP

 

An armed man carrying explosives has taken around 20 passengers hostage on a bus in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk, police said Tuesday.

The head of the local police service said shots were heard at the scene but no injuries have been reported so far.

Law enforcement has cordoned off the centre of Lutsk, a city in western Ukraine some 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the capital Kiev, and advised residents not to leave their homes or places of work.

Police said the SBU security services had surrounded the minibus after two shots were fired from it towards law enforcement.

“The attacker threw a grenade from the bus, which, fortunately, did not detonate,” a statement said, adding that the attacker was believed to have undergone psychiatric treatment.

Video footage and pictures published by local media showed heavily armed police in Lutsk surrounding a blue and white minivan with several windows shattered and its curtains drawn.

An intercity bus with passengers who have been taken hostage by an armed man is seen in the city. YURIY DYACHYSHYN / AFP

 

The hostage-taker made contact with the police and identified himself as Maksym Plokhoy, deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko said.

The authorities were working to confirm the identity of the attacker, he told AFP.

Gerashchenko said law enforcement was talking with the assailant in the hopes of resolving the crisis “through negotiations”.

‘Anti-system’ suspect

Posts on social media accounts using Plokhoy’s name claimed he was armed, including with bombs.

They described him as “anti-system” and made demands of the authorities.

The interior ministry told AFP it believed the accounts were genuine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said news of the hostage-taking was “disturbing”.

“Every effort is being made to resolve the situation without casualties,” he said on Facebook.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov was travelling to the region to coordinate a resolution to the crisis, the ministry said.

Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014, has been struggling with a proliferation of illegal weapons.

The fighting broke out between Kiev forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in the fighting so far.

Police in late 2017 stormed a post office in the eastern city of Kharkiv, where an armed man claiming to be strapped with explosives had captured 11 people.

AFP

One Shot, 30 Taken Hostage In Philippine Mall Attack

Policemen subdue hostage-taker Archir Paray (obscured) after he surrendered outside a mall in Manila on March 2, 2020.  Ted ALJIBE / AFP

 

A sacked security guard who shot one person and took about 30 others hostage at a Manila shopping mall on Monday surrendered to authorities, ending a day-long standoff that terrified shoppers and drew a massive police response.

The guard walked out of the V-Mall, where he was allowed to speak briefly to the press before heavily armed officers tackled and arrested him.

He complained about being mistreated by his employers.

Hostages were also led out of the building, but police did not say whether any of them had been hurt nor the exact number caught up in the violence.

The drama started when the suspect shot a security guard, who was rushed to hospital in stable condition, said Francis Zamora, mayor of the San Juan City, which includes the mall.

Zamora told reporters the hostage-taker was upset after losing his job.

Authorities worked for hours to convince him to surrender, and later in the day held a press conference where company officers apologised for upsetting the suspect.

“I deeply regret my shortcomings,” one supervisor said.

“Because of this, I will resign from my post… to give way to a solution to our current problem.”

Police were in contact with the suspect for hours via a walkie talkie.

Philippine malls are centres of life that include everything from restaurants and shops, to churches and medical facilities. The building was full when the violence began.

Zamora said authorities believed there were “around 30” people held.

 Negotiations 

Witness John Paul Buenavista told AFP he saw a wounded person — believed to be a guard at the mall — being put into a wheelchair and whisked away.

“We heard three gunshots. Then we saw people running, saying they saw someone getting shot,” he said.

Manila was the site of a high-profile 2010 hostage-taking that ended with the deaths of eight Hong Kong tourists.

That day-long ordeal started when an ex-police officer, armed with an M-16 assault rifle, hijacked a bus near a popular tourist destination just a few blocks from police headquarters in a desperate bid to get his job back.

Negotiations broke down after nightfall and the ex-officer began shooting passengers, prompting commandos to storm the bus.

AFP

Jihadists Execute Four Hostages In Nigeria – NGO

 

French aid group, Action Against Hunger says Jihadists have executed four Nigerian hostages who had been held since July.

According to the group, the four were among six hostages held by the jihadists. It added that one of its staff and two drivers were among those killed.

“The armed group responsible for the kidnapping of humanitarian workers on July 18, have murdered four hostages,” Action Against Hunger said in a statement that did not identify the victims.

Another of the hostages was killed in September.

The French aid group said it is “extremely concerned and calls for the immediate release of its staff member, Grace, who remains in captivity.”

The six, an Action Against Hunger employee, two drivers and three health ministry personnel were kidnapped while delivering humanitarian aid to vulnerable people in Borno State.

Their driver was killed in the kidnap ambush carried out by militants believed to be members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group.

Jihadists aligned with the Islamic State group then released a video purporting to show the one female aid worker and five male colleagues who had been kidnapped in an attack in northeast Nigeria.

ISWAP is a splinter group of Boko Haram that swore allegiance in 2016 to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

It has repeatedly attacked military bases and previously targeted aid workers in northeast Nigeria.

“Action Against Hunger condemns these latest killings in the strongest terms and deeply regrets that its calls for the release of the hostages have not been acted upon,” the group said in its statement.

On Thursday ISWAP fighters militants killed 14 anti-jihadist militia and a police officer in northeast Nigeria, militia leaders told AFP Friday.

The militia was comprised of local hunters across the northeast along with the state-funded Civilian Joint Task Force, an armed vigilante group.

The decade-long Islamist insurgency has killed 35,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.

The violence has now spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.

Action Against Hunger said it is currently providing food assistance every month to approximately 300,000 people in northeast Nigeria, as well helping thousands more with life-saving health and nutrition services.

Two Killed In Moscow School Shooting

A Moscow high-school student shot a teacher and a police officer dead and held more than 20 other students hostage in a classroom on Monday (February 3) before he was disarmed and detained, Police said.

This is coming just days before Russia hosts the Winter Olympics.

In a rare school shooting in Russia, the attacker entered his school in Northern Moscow carrying a rifle and held students and a teacher hostage in a biology classroom, police in the capital said.

Police later said that the attacker had been detained and had been led out of the school and into a waiting car. According to the Lifenews website, he initially shot one officer and then opened fire at others who arrived at the scene.

The shooting sent dozens of students scurrying out the school while a police helicopter landed in a snow-covered field outside.

It came with Russia in the global spotlight four days before it hosts the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Sekibo’s wife rescued from kidnappers

The wife of the Senator representing Rivers East Senatorial District, George Thompson Sekibo who was kidnapped last Thursday in Port Harcourt has been rescued, a family source said on Monday.

Senator George Thompson Sekibo whose wife was kidnapped by unknown gunmen in Port Harcourt.

Asime sekibo along with two other ladies was abducted under the Obiri Ikwerre Bridge (still under construction) along the East-West road at about 7:00pm, while returning from the University of Port Harcourt, Choba.

A reliable family source told Channels Television news that Mrs Sekibo was rescued from her abductors by security forces somewhere close to Bayelsa along the East-West road at about 5:30pm on Monday.

The family source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said no ransom was paid to the kidnappers, adding that the Senator’s wife has since been reunited with her family.

The spokesman of the Rivers state police command, Ben Ugwuegbulam (DSP), could not confirm the rescue of Mrs Sekibo. He said “I have heard of the development, but I’m still waiting for the details of how it happened”.

The Kidnappers had reportedly contacted Senator Sekibo to demand for an undisclosed amount of ransom money.

Jonathan takes part of blame for failed attempt to rescue European expatriates

President Goodluck Jonathan said on Thursday that he would take some of the responsibility for a failed hostage rescue attempt in which an Italian and a British man died in Sokoto.

The President who disclosed this in an interview with CNN said the Nigerian authorities had worked with intelligence agencies from Britain and other countries in the failed rescue operation.

“We worked with the international intelligence system. If there was success, there would have been a collective glory. Since we did not quite succeed, well, we all take responsibility.”

“So I cannot say I will not take part of that responsibility. Yes, I do. I’m the President of the country.”

Kidnappers last Thursday killed two European expatriate Franco Lamolinara and Chris McManus while a raid to free them was under way, according to British government sources briefed on the matter.

The case drew criticism from the Italian government, who questioned the British authority on why Rome was not consulted before the operation, which was launched by Nigerian forces with support from Britain.

Britain said it had not been possible to inform Italy of the operation until it was under way because of the fast moving situation on the ground and the “imminent and growing danger” to the hostages’ lives.

President Jonathan said the raid on the hide out of the Kidnappers was initiated after conversations between the captors were intercepted.
The hostages had been moved several times and there were fears they would be taken out of Nigeria, he said.

The President said that the escape of one of the alleged kidnappers during an arrest the day before the failed rescue attempt also raised fears that McManus and Lamolinara would be killed.

He said he was not aware of any demand for a ransom, or of any ransom payment having been made.

“In this particular case, no family member informed security agencies that they (the captors) had reached out to them for ransom,” he said.

Five arrested over killing of Italian and British expatriate

Five members of a radical Islamic group suspected of involvement in the kidnapping of an Italian and Briton killed during a failed British-Nigerian rescue operation, have been arrested security officials said on Friday.

The suspects included the ringleader of the kidnappers, a man going by the name of Abu Mohammed, a senior source at the State Security Service (SSS) told a news agency.

Briton Chris McManus and Italian Franco Lamolinara were killed by their captors on Thursday when British-backed Nigerian troops surrounded the hideout of the kidnappers at Sokoto, British and Nigerian authorities said.

The two had been working for a construction company when they were seized in May from their accommodation in Kebbi state, near Nigeria’s northwestern borders with Niger and Benin.

The SSS source said Nigerian forces arrested two of the conspirators on Tuesday, including Abu Mohammed, near Sokoto, on the basis of a Nigerian intelligence tipoff. After interrogation the two led them to the compound.

The Nigerian and British forces mounted a joint raid two days later. The source said three kidnappers were taken alive from inside the house and the others were killed.

He said a splinter group of the Islamist group Boko Haram, with links to al Qaeda’s North African wing, was behind the kidnapping.

According to agency reports, the large compound where the hostages had been held was left pock-marked with bullet holes. The crime scene appeared to be completely unguarded on Friday, with bystanders wandering in and out of the house.

“After all the gunfire, I saw soldiers bring out five dead bodies from the house. Two were white, three were black,” Murtala Naboro Tsafe, whose house is directly opposite the compound told Reuters.

He added that at about 6.30 p.m “soldiers marched three people out of the house who were still alive”.

Neighbours were shocked. “We never suspected what was going on in the house. There were people going in and out of the house every day, but we never saw any white man,” said Mr Tsafe.

Resident Sani Tukur said: “I never noticed anything suspicious around the compound as it looked totally empty, the only person I saw around is the watchman.”
Security officials say Boko Haram has received training, weapons and bomb-making technology from al Qaeda in the Islamic Magreb, which operates in neighbouring Niger and Chad. The Nigerian militant group wants to impose Islamic Sharia law in a country split between Christians and Muslims.
The hostages were shown in a short video that emerged in August saying they were being held by al Qaeda.

The video showed the two men blindfolded and on their knees, while three armed men stood behind them, their faces hidden.

Lamolinara, an engineer, had been in Nigeria for a decade before being kidnapped, and was helping to construct a building for the central bank, according to Italy’s Ansa news agency.

Britain and Italy in diplomatic row over failed operation

A diplomatic row has broken out over the deaths of the two hostages after the Italian president claimed that the British government had not told Rome of the rescue operation.

Branding the situation “inexplicable”, Giorgio Napolitano said that he Italian government was not informed or consulted about the botched mission to rescue the hostages. He called for a political and diplomatic explanation from the UK.

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, hit back, saying: “It isn’t inexplicable. It’s completely explicable what happened.”

He said that the Italian government was “informed” but didn’t specifically “approve” the rescue mission adding that the mission was launched after specific intelligence that the hostages were to be moved and killed.

“We contacted the Italians yesterday as the operation was getting under way, but this was a very fast-moving situation,” Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman told reporters in London.