Iranian takes 15 hostage on Swiss train, shot dead by police

BERLIN – An Iranian asylum seeker was shot dead by police in Switzerland after taking 15 people hostage on a train, authorities said Friday.

Armed with an ax and knife, the 32-year-old man held hostages on a train in the town of Essert-sous-Champvent in the Swiss canton of Vaud, near the French border, for almost four hours on Thursday evening.

“The hostages were all released unharmed,” police in the canton of Vaud said Friday in a statement that identified the man only as an Iranian asylum seeker. “The hostage taker was fatally injured during the intervention.”

The ordeal began at around 6.35pm local time, after the train driver had to leave his post and join the passengers. Police said the hostage taker spoke a mixture of Farsi and English.

Alarmed by people trapped on the train, about 60 officers arrived on the scene shortly afterwards and sealed off the area, about 60 kilometers west of the Swiss capital Bern.

The negotiations with the hostage taker were conducted with the help of a Farsi interpreter and partly via the messaging service WhatsApp on the hostages’ mobile phones. At a press conference after the incident, Attorney General Eric Kaltenrieder said authorities ultimately decided to storm.

“The intervention was launched at the moment when the hostage taker left the train in which the hostages were located to leave, for reasons we do not know,” Kaltenrieder said. “And it was at this point that the police decided to intervene and bring the hostages who were there to safety.

a video clip posted on Police later focused on the video, saying the blasts were a tactic to separate the man from the hostages.

“It appears that a stun grenade was used and at least one shot was fired that led to the death of the hostage taker,” Kaltenrieder said.

Vaud canton police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel told Swiss media that the hostage taker was shot by an officer after the man charged at the emergency team with his axe.

“A police officer used his weapon to protect the hostages and fatally struck the perpetrator,” Sauterel said. The man died on the spot.

The hostages received medical and psychological care and were taken to a police station and interrogated. Relatives were also waiting for them.

The motive behind the incident is still unclear, according to police. “No element points us towards a terrorist act. Neither terrorist nor jihadist,” Sauterel told Swiss media on Friday, adding that investigations were underway to clarify the circumstances of the attack.

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