On the evening of Thursday February 8, fifteen people were taken hostage on a train traveling in western Switzerland. The assailant, a 32-year-old man, was ultimately shot dead by the police. No information on the attacker’s motive has been revealed.
A hostage-taking took place Thursday evening, February 8, on a train traveling in western Switzerland. The attacker was “mortally wounded” during the assault, and the fifteen people he was holding were released unharmed, police said.
The hostage taker would be a “asking for asylum” Iranian aged 32. He was armed with an ax and a knife and spoke Farsi (the majority language in Iran) and English, said the spokesperson for the Vaud cantonal police Jean-Christophe Sauterel, during a briefing. press. “At this stage of the investigation, the motivations of the author are not known”continued the authorities.
The hostage situation began around 6:35 p.m. and ended around 10:30 p.m. The alleged perpetrator first forced the driver of the train, stopped at Essert-sous-Champvent station – about 6 kilometers from Yverdon not far from Lake Neuchâtel – to leave his post and join the other passengers . The hostages were fifteen in total, the driver of the train and 14 passengers.
The police were alerted by the latter and the negotiations with the hostage-taker took place partly via WhatsApp messaging and through a Farsi-speaking interpreter. The 32-year-old man was shot dead by a police officer as he rushed at him with an axe, with the intervention group who managed to board the stationary train managing to intervene between the attacker and the hostages.
The authorities finally made the decision to attack. Around 10:15 p.m., the police took action. A video clip broadcast on the social network X shows the train stationary in the night before several strong, very bright explosions. A maneuver by the police to keep the hostage taker away from his victims, explained Jean-Christophe Sauterel.
In Switzerland, terrible hostage crisis on a train towards Yverdon: the passengers released. The attacker, believed to be a 32-year-old Iranian asylum seeker, was killed during the intervention.#Swiss pic.twitter.com/1abh8f6d6i
— The Sovereignist (@LSouvrainiste) February 9, 2024
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.
Later, at a press conference, when asked whether the war between Israel and Hamas might have played a role in the attack, neither the police officers nor the prosecutors present 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 it is confirmed, the identity of the author should bring grist to the mill of the UDC, the first party in Switzerland, which constantly campaigns to denounce crimes and offenses committed by foreigners and demand a policy more severe towards asylum seekers.
Hostage taking in Essert-Sous-Champvent, hostages released, press briefing at 11:45 p.m. at the Yverdon les Bains Mobile Gendarmerie Center in the presence of the Prosecutor General. Cantonal police JCh Sauterel
— Vaudoise Police (@Policevaudoise) February 8, 2024
The event of this Thursday, February 8 is rare in Switzerland. The latest hostage situations to hit the headlines had villainous motivations. Thus, 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.
Another precedent, in November 2021, a director of a watchmaking 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.