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Hamburg airport hostage-taker gives himself up

By AFP - Nov 05,2023 - Last updated at Nov 05,2023

A police van observe the car of a hostage taker seen parked under a Turkish airline plane on the tarmac at the airport in Hamburg, northern Germany, on Sunday (AFP photo)

HAMBURG — An armed father who took his four-year-old daughter hostage, forcing the suspension of flights at Hamburg airport, gave himself up “without resistance” on Sunday after hours of negotiations, German police said.

The 35-year-old man had barricaded himself and the child in his car at the foot of a Turkish Airlines plane on Saturday evening, demanding to be allowed on board after a custody dispute with the mother. 

He had rammed his car through the security area onto the apron where planes are parked, firing two shots in the air and throwing two burning bottles out of the vehicle, police said.

“The hostage-taking has ended,” local police posted on X, formerly Twitter, Sunday afternoon.

“The man has left his car with his daughter and been taken for questioning by security forces without resistance,” it said, adding the child “seems in good health”.

Police had brought psychologists and teams of negotiators as well as rapid response units to the airport in northern Germany.

Authorities said a dispute over custody of the child was believed to be behind the incident, with the wife of the driver placing an emergency call alerting police to the abduction of her child.

Police had described lengthy negotiations which had taken place in Turkish and announced the father was believed to be “in possession of a loaded weapon and perhaps explosives”.

The man, a Turk according to the daily Bild newspaper, had at first demanded to be allowed to fly to Turkey with his daughter.

“That’s no longer the aim of negotiations,” a local police spokesperson had said.

“We believe that the child is physically well,” police spokeswoman Sandra Levgruen told regional television channel NDR.

“That’s what we can see and what we gather from telephone conversations with the man responsible for what has happened. We can hear the child in the background.”

“I don’t want to talk about her mental state,” the spokeswoman added.

“We are talking, talking and talking again,” with the father, and “trying to find a peaceful solution”, she had added.

On Sunday morning the airport management posted on X saying, “Air traffic remains suspended until further notice.”

On Saturday evening, 17 flights schedulled to land in Hamburg were diverted. Another 286 flights were schedulled for Sunday, carrying some 34,500 passengers.

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