Three die as tour bus is seized in Cologne

Hostages stand-off: Gunman's motive unkown as seven-hour incident ends with attack by armed police

Cologne - Police stormed a city tour bus yesterday and killed a Russian- speaking gunman after a seven-hour stand-off in which he killed the driver and a hostage and threatened to blow himself with up more than 20 tourists.

The passengers included 10 Germans, four Americans, four Austrians, two Japanese and one each from Argentina, Turkey and Israel, said police commander Winrich Granitzka.

"We were afraid he wanted to end it with a bang," said Mr Granitzka after armed officers rushed on to the bus with guns blazing after fooling the hostage-taker into thinking they were approaching to give him a replacement mobile phone.

The man had tricked the police into thinking he had dynamite strapped to his body and the doors of the bus, with ignition wires in his hands. The sticks turned out to be pieces of wood.

Four of the hostages escaped during the day. When the last, a 50-year- old man, ran out, the gunman shot him in the upper chest and ordered him to return "or I'll kill your wife," Mr Granitzka said. Police dragged the man to a truck and rushed him to the hospital, where he was in critical condition. Police then heard a shot from inside the bus and later found the body of the driver and a 60-year-old woman.

That shot persuaded the police to act quickly, said prosecutor Karl Utermann: "This was a killer who would stop at nothing." Police were vague about the gunman's demands. Some hostages said he asked to go to Paris or to speak to a government representative. He yelled something once about the Russian mafia. He spoke in broken English and broken German until a Russian translator was brought. They communicated on the bus's mobile phone until its battery died. "We assume that he was not somebody who just wanted money. We assume his demands eventually would have had a political overtone," said Mr Granitzka.

Police said about 20 adults and three children had boarded the municipal tour bus in front of the twin spires of the ancient Cologne Cathedral at 10 am for the two-hour tour.

Forty minutes later, when it stopped at the fairgrounds exhibition centre for a panoramic view of the skyline, the gunman went forward, argued with the driver and shot him dead.

A construction worker saw the struggle and called police. The gunman opened fire with an automatic pistol on the patrol car that answered the alarm, wounding an officer in the stomach. He was out of danger after an operation. The co-driver, a 34-year-old Chinese language student, escaped shortly after the drama began when the gunman ordered her to go outside and get his bag from the luggage compartment. She hid under the shot-up patrol car for an hour until police could pull her out. A few hours later, her 11-year-old son and the wounded man escaped from the back window of the bus, broken by passengers in an attempt to flee. After that, Mr Granitzka said, the gunman tied the remaining hostages together and blindfolded them.

Suggested Topics
Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried