Schoolchildren taken hostage in German town

A man armed with two knives pulled several schoolchildren off a public bus in a north-west German town on Tuesday and forced at least four of them into a nearby house. Police quickly surrounded the home.

The mother of one of the children who escaped from the bus said the man told them he wants to bring his family to Germany from Iran.

Police believe the man took four children captive after commandeering the bus, which was filled with schoolchildren on their way home in the town of Ennepetal shortly before 1pm local time, said Ulrich Rungwerth, of the North Rhine-Westphalia state interior ministry.

Renate Schulte said her 16-year-old son, Marvin, who escaped after the man forced the bus driver to stop, told her that the man read a statement in the bus saying his children are in Iran and he wants to be allowed to bring them to Germany.

The man then herded some of the children into the back of the bus and tied nine or 10 of them together by their belt buckles with a cord.

The man told the children on the bus to stay calm and said he wants to talk to the German government, Marvin Schulte said.

“He didn’t seem aggressive,” the boy said. “He said we should stay quiet and he didn’t want to harm us.”

The man, described by witnesses as in his 40s, forced the bus driver to stop and hustled the group of captives off the bus, but apparently let several of them go.

He forced the others toward a house where a woman was returning home and forced her to give him the front-door key, Marvin Schulte said.

The man pushed the woman aside, shoved the children into the house and locked the door.
Police said they are trying to establish contact with him. Neighbours said the man lives in the area.

The hostage-taking rattled the small-town calm in an area of upscale single-family homes in Ennepetal, between the cities of Duesseldorf and Dortmund.

Police vehicles rushed to the area around the house, which was sealed off by authorities.

The man did not immediately make any demands to authorities, police spokesperson Sandra Zwick said.—Sapa-AP

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