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Armed man seizes bus and holds 10 people hostage in Ukraine

Police sealed off the centre of Lutsk, a city 250 miles west of the capital Kyiv.

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In this handout photo released by Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, a police officer blocks an area near the bus containing hostages after an armed man seized a bus and took some 20 people hostage in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine on Tuesday July 21, 2020. An armed man seized a long-distance bus and took people in it hostage in northwestern Ukraine on Tuesday launching an hours-long standoff with police, Ukrainian authorities said. About 10 people are currently being held hostage, Ukraine’s Security Service said in a Facebook statement. (Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office via AP)

In this handout photo released by Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, a police officer blocks an area near the bus containing hostages after an armed man seized a bus and took some 20 people hostage in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine on Tuesday July 21, 2020. An armed man seized a long-distance bus and took people in it hostage in northwestern Ukraine on Tuesday launching an hours-long standoff with police, Ukrainian authorities said. About 10 people are currently being held hostage, Ukraine’s Security Service said in a Facebook statement. (Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office via AP)

In this handout photo released by Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office, a police officer blocks an area near the bus containing hostages after an armed man seized a bus and took some 20 people hostage in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine on Tuesday July 21, 2020. An armed man seized a long-distance bus and took people in it hostage in northwestern Ukraine on Tuesday launching an hours-long standoff with police, Ukrainian authorities said. About 10 people are currently being held hostage, Ukraine’s Security Service said in a Facebook statement. (Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office via AP)

An armed man has seized a long-distance bus and taken people in it hostage in north-western Ukraine, launching an hours-long standoff with police, authorities said.

About 10 people were being held, Ukraine’s Security Service said in a Facebook statement.

Police had earlier put the number at 20. It was unclear how many people had been on board to start with, and whether any escaped.

Officers sealed off the centre of Lutsk, a city 250 miles west of the capital Kyiv.

The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, police said. He has refused the authorities’ offer to deliver water and food to the hostages.

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The scene in Lutsk (AP)

The scene in Lutsk (AP)

AP/PA Images

The scene in Lutsk (AP)

At one point, he threw explosives out of a bus window, but no one was hurt. He also fired several shots at a police drone.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said negotiations with the man are under way, adding: “We’re doing everything to free the hostages.”

The man called police after taking control of the bus and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko said.

In a Telegram account reportedly belonging to him, Plokhoy apparently admitted taking people on the bus hostage, said “the state has always been and always is the first terrorist”, and demanded that senior Ukrainian officials release statements on their social media pages calling themselves terrorists.

According to Mr Gerashchenko, police have identified the man as Maksim Krivosh, a 44-year-old Ukrainian born in Russia. He had allegedly been convicted twice on a wide range of charges — robbery, fraud, illegal arms handling — and spent a total of 10 years behind bars.

Interior minister Arsen Avakov travelled to Lutsk to supervise operations.

Ukrainian media reported that gunshots were heard at the scene. It was not clear whether anyone has been injured.

According to reports, Krivosh tried to reach out to journalists through hostages and their phones, demanding they spread the word about his demands and get more reporters at the scene.

Mr Zelenskiy said earlier on Tuesday that he was personally monitoring the situation.

PA