Switzerland: the author of a hostage-taking on a train “mortally injured”, the hostages safe and sound

A man took fifteen passengers hostage on a train traveling in western Switzerland on the evening of Thursday February 8

Switzerland: the author of a hostage-taking on a train “mortally injured”, the hostages safe and sound

A man took fifteen passengers hostage on a train traveling in western Switzerland on the evening of Thursday February 8. The suspect was “fatally injured” during a police assault and the people he was holding were released unharmed.

The hostage taker is believed to be a 32-year-old Iranian “asylum seeker” who was armed with an ax and a knife and who spoke Farsi and English, the cantonal police spokesperson said. Vaudoise Jean-Christophe Sauterel, during a press briefing. “At this stage of the investigation, the motivations of the author are not known,” the authorities further indicated.

When asked whether the war between Israel and Hamas might have played a role in the attack, neither police nor prosecutors at the news conference would comment.

The spokesperson insisted on the fact that the identity of the hostage taker was still conditional, while all the necessary checks were carried out.

If confirmed, the identity of the author should bring grist to the mill of the UDC, the leading party in Switzerland, which constantly campaigns to denounce crimes and misdemeanors committed by foreigners and demand a policy more severe towards asylum seekers.

A madman armed with an ax

The hostage-taker was shot dead by a police officer as he rushed at him with an ax, with the intervention group that managed to board the stationary train managing to interpose themselves between the attacker and the hostages . There were fifteen in total, fourteen passengers and the driver of the train. The hostage situation began around 6:35 p.m. on Thursday and ended around 10:30 p.m.

The alleged perpetrator first forced the driver of the train stopped at Essert-sous-Champvent station − half a dozen kilometers from Yverdon not far from Lake Neuchâtel − to leave his post and join the other passengers.

The police were alerted by the latter and the negotiations with the hostage taker took place partly via WhatsApp messaging and through an interpreter speaking Farsi, the majority language in Iran.

Around sixty police officers mobilized

The authorities finally took the decision to attack and the police took action around 10:15 p.m. A video clip broadcast on the social network maneuver by the police to keep the hostage taker away from his victims, explained Mr. Sauterel.

The duty prosecutor and the public prosecutor of the canton of Vaud immediately went to the site and a criminal investigation was opened. In total, around sixty police officers were hired. The intervention groups from the canton and the city of Lausanne were supported by snipers from the Geneva cantonal police.

Hostage-taking is quite rare in Switzerland, especially of this magnitude. The last ones to hit the headlines had villainous motivations.

So in January 2022, thugs took a couple and two employees of a company hostage to gain access to the vaults where precious metals were stored, but they ultimately fled without their loot. In November 2021, a director of a watch company was taken hostage at his home with members of his family. After stealing gold from his company, the six hostage-takers fled to neighboring France.