Ukrainian hostage taker surrenders, bus passengers unharmed, police say

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An ‘unstable’ gunman who seized more than a dozen hostages from a long-distance bus in the city of Lutsk, Ukraine, was arrested Tuesday evening after a standoff that lasted more than 12 hours and all hostages were released unharmed, officials said.Following discussions with the first deputy chief of the national police, Yevhen Koval, the man freed three of the hostages, including a pregnant woman. Koval also delivered water to the hostages. At one point, the assailant fired his gun and a bullet narrowly missed Koval.

Shortly after, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a brief video message on his Facebook page urging Ukrainians to watch a movie – as the hostage taker had wanted.

A few minutes later, the assailant surrendered to the police and authorities said the 13 hostages had been released.

Speaking to reporters after the drama ended, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov described the assailant as an “unstable man who invented his own world”.

Police cordoned off the center of Lutsk, 400 kilometers west of the capital Kiev, after the assailant, who police said was armed and carrying explosives, boarded the bus. At one point, the assailant threw explosives out of a bus window, but no one was injured. He also fired several shots at a police drone.

The man called the police himself at 9.25 a.m. local time after taking control of the vehicle and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook.

A Ukrainian law enforcement officer shows the way of three hostages after they leave the seized bus. (Pavlo Palamarchuk / Reuters)

According to Gerashchenko, police identified the man as Maksim Krivosh, a 44-year-old Ukrainian born in Russia. Krivosh has reportedly been convicted twice on a wide range of charges – theft, fraud, illegal handling of weapons – and has spent a total of 10 years behind bars.

Krivosh is reported to have attempted to contact reporters through hostages and their phones, demanding that they spread the word about his requests and that more reporters arrive at the scene.

Ukrainian police are blocking the streets near the hostage-taking site. (Mykola Martyniuk / Reuters)

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