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Armed man seizes bus, holding 10 people hostage in Ukraine

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A view shows a passenger bus, which was seized by an unidentified person in the city of Lutsk, Ukraine July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mykola Martyniuk

A view shows a passenger bus, which was seized by an unidentified person in the city of Lutsk, Ukraine July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mykola Martyniuk

In this undated photo released by Ukrainian Police, who they identify as Maksim Krivosh holding a gun, who is identified as the man who has taken some 20 people hostage inside a bus in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday July 21, 2020.  The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, according to a Facebook statement by Ukrainian police. Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man and they have sealed off the area.(Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

In this undated photo released by Ukrainian Police, who they identify as Maksim Krivosh holding a gun, who is identified as the man who has taken some 20 people hostage inside a bus in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday July 21, 2020. The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, according to a Facebook statement by Ukrainian police. Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man and they have sealed off the area.(Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

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A view shows a passenger bus, which was seized by an unidentified person in the city of Lutsk, Ukraine July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mykola Martyniuk

An armed man has seized a long-distance bus and taken people in it hostage in north-western Ukraine, launching an hours-long standoff with police, authorities said.

About 10 people were being held, Ukraine's Security Service said in a Facebook statement.

Police had earlier put the number at 20. It was unclear how many people had been on board to start with, and whether any escaped.

Officers sealed off the centre of Lutsk, a city 250 miles west of the capital Kyiv.

The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, police said. He has refused the authorities' offer to deliver water and food to the hostages.

At one point, he threw explosives out of a bus window, but no one was hurt. He also fired several shots at a police drone.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said negotiations with the man are under way, adding: "We're doing everything to free the hostages."

The man called police after taking control of the bus and introduced himself as Maksim Plokhoy, deputy interior minister Anton Gerashchenko said.

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In this undated photo released by Ukrainian Police, who they identify as Maksim Krivosh holding a gun, who is identified as the man who has taken some 20 people hostage inside a bus in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday July 21, 2020.  The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, according to a Facebook statement by Ukrainian police. Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man and they have sealed off the area.(Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

In this undated photo released by Ukrainian Police, who they identify as Maksim Krivosh holding a gun, who is identified as the man who has taken some 20 people hostage inside a bus in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday July 21, 2020. The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, according to a Facebook statement by Ukrainian police. Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man and they have sealed off the area.(Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

In this undated photo released by Ukrainian Police, who they identify as Maksim Krivosh holding a gun, who is identified as the man who has taken some 20 people hostage inside a bus in the city centre of Lutsk, some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Tuesday July 21, 2020. The assailant is armed and carrying explosives, according to a Facebook statement by Ukrainian police. Police officers are trying to get in touch with the man and they have sealed off the area.(Ukrainian Police Press Office via AP)

In a Telegram account reportedly belonging to him, Plokhoy apparently admitted taking people on the bus hostage, said "the state has always been and always is the first terrorist", and demanded that senior Ukrainian officials release statements on their social media pages calling themselves terrorists.

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According to Mr Gerashchenko, police have identified the man as Maksim Krivosh, a 44-year-old Ukrainian born in Russia. He had allegedly been convicted twice on a wide range of charges - robbery, fraud, illegal arms handling - and spent a total of 10 years behind bars.

Interior minister Arsen Avakov travelled to Lutsk to supervise operations.

Ukrainian media reported that gunshots were heard at the scene. It was not clear whether anyone has been injured.

According to reports, Krivosh tried to reach out to journalists through hostages and their phones, demanding they spread the word about his demands and get more reporters at the scene.

Mr Zelenskiy said earlier on Tuesday that he was personally monitoring the situation.


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