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World

Hijack Drama in Germany Draws to a Close

In an eerie reminder of a hijacking two weeks ago in Berlin, an armed man took over a city bus in Bremen, northern Germany, on Friday. Police have managed to end the ordeal with all hostages being freed unharmed.

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Motorway chase comes to an end.

German police managed to successfully end a hostage drama near Hildesheim, northern Germany on Friday when a hijacker surrendered after a tense seven-hour chase and stand-off. No one was injured and the youth surrendered when elite police sharpshooters stormed the bus. No shot was fired. There were five hostages on board when the drama ended.

"The special forces took advantage of a momentary lapse in concentration by the hijacker and stored the bus," a police spokesperson told Reuters. Apparently the youth has begun to grow tired. He surrendered without any resistance.

The 17-year-old Lebanese youth hijacked the bus with 15 passengers on board around 0900 (0700 GMT) in the city of Bremen.

The hijacker entered the bus in the city center, showed his pistol and told the driver to keep driving. Before the bus left, three passengers were allowed off the bus, according to police. The hijacker sat directly behind the driver and kept his gun pointed at him.

Following a two-hour chase by police and ambulance, a number of unmarked police cars succeeded in stopping the bus on the A7 expressway, near the city of Hildesheim. Traffic was blocked in both directions.

The hijacker had requested a meeting with the mayor of Bremen, police said, although they gave no indication as to the motive for the hijacking.

Meeting with mayor requested

Police negotiated with him through the open bus door. They described the hijacker as composed, but "mentally unbalanced." In addition to the meeting with Bremen Mayor Henning Scherf, he had requested a new cell phone, water to drink and a fresh driver for the bus.

According to reports, the hijacker let off one shot out the bus window, but without aiming at anything in particular. One passenger was able to escape early in the hijacking. Several children were also reported to be among the hostages.

It was Germany's second such hijacking in two weeks. In Berlin on April 11 an armed man took over a city bus after he had robbed a bank. A special police unit later stormed the bus and two hostages were freed uninjured. The hijacker was shot and captured in a special commando operation by the police.

German media reports are also referring to a similar hostage drama in Gladbeck in North-Rhine Westphalia in 1988 that lasted for 54 hours and ended with several casualties and serious injuries. At that time gangsters hijacked a bus with 35 passengers in Bremen and drove towards Gladbeck.