Ukrainian police announced Tuesday, July 21, that they had released all the passengers of a bus, taken hostage in Lutsk, in western Ukraine, by an armed man who opened fire on the police and claimed to have concealed a bomb in the city.
“All the hostages are free ! “said Deputy Home Secretary Anton Guerashchenko on Facebook.
The Ukrainian authorities first reported about twenty passengers being held for several hours in a bus in this city of about 200,000 inhabitants, located 400 kilometers west of the capital Kiev, while the police and the assailant were negotiating “Tense” according to the police.
But after the successful release, the number of hostages was reduced to 13. “Thirteen people in total were taken hostage”Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said during a briefing in Lutsk.
” It’s finish ! “
The assailant first released an elderly woman, a teenager and a young woman, after a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, according to Ukrainian presidency spokeswoman Yulia Mendel. The ten remaining hostages were later released after a special forces and police operation, according to the Ukrainian security services (SBU). The hostage taker surrendered to the police, according to the Interior Ministry.
” It’s finish ! “Home Secretary Arsen Avakov said on Twitter, posting a photo of the assailant lying on the ground, handcuffed, alongside special forces members. “We haven’t lost anybody”, President Zelensky said in a Facebook post.
As a result of the hostage-taking, heavily armed police officers were deployed near the bus, as well as an armored vehicle, according to a journalist from Agence France-Presse.
A survey for “Attack” has been opened. The hostage taker, a former prisoner, shot at law enforcement, opened fire on a drone that hovered over the minibus and threw an explosive package and a grenade into the street, the latter not having “Fortunately not exploded”, according to Ukrainian police. He also claimed to have concealed “In another place an explosive device which could be triggered remotely”, according to the Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office.
Guerashchenko said the man called the police introducing himself as Maxim Plokhoï, a pseudonym that can be translated as “Bad Maxime”. Later that day, the assailant was identified as Maxim Krivoch, a 44-year-old Ukrainian citizen from the Russian region of Orenburg, who has already been convicted twice, including for “Banditry”, “Frauds” and illegal detention, and having spent almost ten years in prison in Ukraine.
Proliferation of illegally held weapons
Messages posted on social networks under the name of “Maxime Plokhoï” said he was armed, including explosives, and that he was “Against the system” and demanded that the most important personalities in the country, starting with the president, post messages on social networks where they tarnish their image or behave in a ridiculous way. According to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, these accounts may have belonged to the hostage taker. One of them on Twitter was later disabled.
In the evening, President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video on Facebook where he filled out a hostage taker request and called “All watching the film Earthlings released in 2005 ”, in reference to an American documentary on the mistreatment of animals intended to be pets.
Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, faces the proliferation of illegally held weapons, a problem that has been exacerbated since the outbreak of a 2014 war against pro-Russian separatists in its eastern territory. In 2017, police freed 11 hostages held by a gunman at a post office in the city of Kharkiv.