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Armed man takes 20 people hostage on bus in Ukraine

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The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, police said in a Facebook statement.

A gunman claiming to be armed with explosives on Tuesday seized a passenger bus and was holding 20 people hostage in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk, police said. Picture: IANS

Lutsk, Ukraine – An armed man seized a bus and took some 20 people hostage in northwestern Ukraine on Tuesday, Ukrainian police said.

Police sealed off the center of Lutsk, a city 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv. The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, they said in a Facebook statement.

Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man. He called the police himself at 9:25 a.m. (0725 GMT) after taking control of the bus and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said on Facebook.

Gerashchenko said there is a book online, signed by Maksim Plokhoy and titled “Philosophy of a criminal,” describing a man’s experience in prison.

In this image take from video, police close off the streets, after an armed man seized a bus and took some 20 people hostage in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine. Picture: AP

“For 15 years they’ve been correcting me, but I haven’t been corrected, on the contrary — I’ve become even more who I am,” one extract from the book said, according to Gerashchenko.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is flying to Lutsk.

An armoured personnel carrier and other vehicles block a road during a hostage rescue operation following the seizure of a passenger bus in the city of Lutsk, Ukraine. Picture: Tetiana Hrishyna/Reuters

Ukrainian media reported that gunshots could be heard at the scene. It wasn’t immediately clear whether anyone has been injured.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers lie on the ground behind a car near a passenger bus, which was seized by an unidentified person in the city of Lutsk. Picture: Tetiana Hrishyna/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he is personally monitoring the situation. “Gunshots have been heard, the bus is damaged,” Zelenskiy said in a Facebook statement, adding that measures are being taken to resolve the situation without casualties.

Ukrainian law enforcement officers take part in a hostage rescue operation after an unidentified person seized a passenger bus in the city of Lutsk. Picture: Tetiana Hrishyna/Reuters

AP