Russian men hijack bus in Athens?
A bus was hijacked in Athens this morning and its 26 passengers held at gunpoint. The identity of the hijackers is uncertain at the moment – the bus driver thinks they are Albanian, but RIA Novosti (via Mosnews) is reporting that they are Russian. One man called Khassan is allegedly demanding they be airlifted to Russia.
I also just heard on the BBC breakfast news (sorry, no link) that officials from the Russian embassy are at the scene, giving credence to the report that the hijackers are actually Russian, or perhaps Chechens.
I’m off to work now, I’ll update during the day if I get chance.
Update (10:40 GMT): RIA Novosti is reporting that some of the hostages on the bus may be Russians.
Update 2 (21:00 GMT): The standoff between police and hijackers continues, as does confusion over the identity of the hijackers. Although their demand for a plane to Russia has been confirmed, no-one in the press seems to know whether they are Albanians or Russians. Albanians have a poor reputation in Greece, and Reuters reports that:
Police believe the hijackers may want to portray themselves as Russians rather than Albanians to avoid a backlash against the large Albanian immigrant community in Greece. Russian diplomats said they did not believe the men were Russians.
Hostages have been released steadily throughout the day, leading to hopes that a surrender can be negotiated. Only seven of the original two dozen hostages remain on the bus.
Update 3 (16 December, 08:00 GMT): Thankfully, after more than 24 hours, the gunmen released all their hostages, and surrendered themselves to Greek police. The mystery of their identity also seems to have been solved:
Both gunmen were aged 24 and had lived in Greece for six years, coming to the country from Albania, police said.