Ukraine gunman releases three of his bus hostages in Lutsk

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image copyrightReuters
image captionCounter-terrorism police have surrounded the bus in Lutsk

Police in Ukraine are involved in a tense stand-off with an armed man who took about 20 people hostage on a bus in the western city of Lutsk.

After several hours of negotiations, three of the hostages were released.

Officers earlier said they had come under fire and a grenade was thrown, although it did not explode. The hostages are said to be unharmed.

The man has been named by police as Maksym Kryvosh, 44, from Russia who has previous convictions.

He is said to be demanding that senior politicians state they are terrorists.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is leading negotiations with the hostage-taker.

He said the hostages, who have been on the bus for several hours, were well and the authorities were doing everything they could to resolve the crisis quickly and peacefully.

He denied earlier reports that Kryvosh had undergone psychiatric treatment.

The hostages released were an elderly woman, a teenager and a pregnant young woman, officials said.

image copyrightAFP
image captionKryvosh has several convictions for fraud and illegal handling of weapons

Pictures from the scene showed officers of the counter-terrorism SBU security services surrounding the bus. Police said two shots had been fired from it and the man claimed to also have explosives.

"The attacker threw a grenade from the bus, which, fortunately, did not detonate," a statement said.

According to the prosecutor general's office, the gunman says he has placed an explosive device in a public place in the city that could be detonated remotely.

image copyrightReuters
image captionCounter-terrorism police have surrounded the bus in Lutsk

Police have cordoned off the city centre and told residents not to leave their homes or offices.

Mr Herashchenko said Kryvosh had spent around 10 years in prison on convictions including fraud and the illegal handling of weapons.

Ukrainian media have shared what appears to be the man's Twitter account, on which he is posting criticism of senior national figures.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was closely following the situation.

"We are in full control of the situation. I am talking with our specialists who are in Lutsk. Professionals are working, doing everything to free our hostages," he said.

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