Bus hijacker seized in Russia
April 14, 1997
Web posted at: 8:20 a.m. EDT (1220 GMT)
MOSCOW (CNN) -- Police on Monday seized a gunman who held 30 people hostage on a bus in the republic of Dagestan in southern Russia. No one was hurt in the hijacking, a spokesman for the local interior minister said.
The hijacker, demanding $100,000 and a helicopter to use in his escape, held the hostages for about four hours at the airport serving the Dagestani capital Makhachkala on the Caspian Sea.
The ITAR-Tass news agency said that the hostages were released after a police officer offered himself in exchange for their freedom.
Dagestani officials had been negotiating with the hijacker,
according to police duty officer Abdrakhman Cherimov.
Cherimov said the hijacker, armed with an assault rifle and a
grenade, commandeered the bus near the airport shortly after
midnight, forcing the driver to take the bus and its
passengers there. The police spokesman said the hijacker was
from the separatist Abkhazia region in neighboring Georgia.
Hijackings are not uncommon in Russia's North Caucasus
region, where separatists are pushing for independence in a
number of Russian republics. A man armed with a grenade
hijacked a bus in Makhachkala last fall, also demanding a
helicopter. He released the bus passengers, and fled to
Chechnya by car with a local politician as security.
Chechen rebels conducted a series of bus hijackings in the region for ransom before their bloody conflict with
Russia broke out in 1994.
Dagestan borders Chechnya as well as the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan, all of which have been sites of fierce separatist conflicts.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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