An armed man has been detained after taking a busload of passengers hostage in Ukraine during a day-long standoff with police.
The man, who said he was armed with weapons and explosives, released three of the hostages on Tuesday evening, more than 11 hours after seizing the bus in Lutsk, a city 250 miles (400km) west of the capital Kyiv.
Moments later, police detained the assailant, Russian news agency Interfax reported.
Gunman takes bus passengers hostage in Ukraine
All the hostages are believed to be unharmed.
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) said about 10 people were on the long-distance bus, but police earlier said there were 20, making it unclear how many people had been on board to start with, and whether any escaped.
At one point, the man threw explosive out of the bus’s window but nobody was hurt.
He also fired several shots at a police drone and refused the authorities’ offer to deliver water and food to the hostages.
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Ivan Bakanov, head of the SBU, said the man was 44 years old and investigators started criminal proceedings against him on Tuesday afternoon under Article 258 – an act of terrorism.
He said anti-terrorist staff were at the scene.
Image: Police closed off streets in Lutsk and told residents to remain indoors
Image: Armed police were positioned around the bus
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said negotiations with the man were under way on Tuesday morning, adding: “We’re doing everything to free the hostages.”
Police sealed off the centre of Lutsk and told residents to remain indoors.
The man called police after taking control of the bus and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko said.
In a Telegram account reportedly belonging to him, the man apparently admitted taking the people on the bus hostage.
Image: Bullet holes could be seen in the bus’s front windscreen
He said “the state has always been and always is the first terrorist”, and demanded senior Ukrainian officials release statements on their social media pages calling themselves terrorists.
Mr Gerashchenko said police have identified the man as Maksim Krivosh, a Ukrainian born in Russia.
He has allegedly been convicted twice on several charges, ranging from robbery and fraud to illegal arms handling, and has spent a total of 10 years in prison.
According to local reports, Krivosh tried to reach out to journalists through hostages and their phones, demanding they spread the word about his demands and get more reporters to the scene.
Mr Zelenskiy said he was personally monitoring the situation.
Source : Sky News