(PM) – A man armed with guns and explosives seized a bus in the western Ukrainian city of Lutsk and took 20 passengers hostage on Tuesday, police reported, as the suspect made apparent demands on social media.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the attacker took control of the bus at 9:25 a.m. local time and police were responding with an operation meant to avoid casualties.
“Gunshots have been heard, the bus is damaged,” Zelenskiy posted to Facebook. The president added he is personally overseeing the situation.
Photos released by Ukrainian press show at least one National Guard armoured personal carrier supporting police vehicles and police said that special forces were at the scene.
Casualties have not been reported at this time.
The assailant called the police after taking the hostages and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko said in a statement.
Gerashchenko cited on Facebook a book signed by Maksim Plokhoy titled “Philosophy of a Criminal” that described a man’s experience in prison. An excerpt shared by the minister said “I haven’t been corrected”.
He demanding that the heads of courts, ministries, the prosecutor’s office, parliament, and churches record and post on YouTube statements that they are terrorists in law, according to local reporting.