Palestinian man admits hijacking bus

A 24-year-old Palestinian man has admitted he was behind the hijacking of a bus on Monday evening in an incident that left passengers terrified in Skien, south-eastern Norway.

The hellish episode began at around 7.30pm when the man refused to buy a ticket and instead threatened the driver with an emergency hammer he found on-board the bus.

The 24-year-old then declined to let any of the passengers off the coach.  

”He told the driver he was not allowed to drive at less than 60 kilometres per hour. It was a scary experience,” one passenger, Sandra Svendsen, told newspaper VG.

Svendsen, 15, said she and her fellow passengers believed the hijacker was intoxicated. After several minutes had passed, one passenger shouted out that he had to pick up his children.

The hijacker then gave the driver permission to stop the bus. Sensing their opportunity, and much to the hijacker’s dismay, all of the passenger quickly slipped out of the bus once it had come to a halt.

”He became furious. He shouted to the driver:’ Don’t let them off, don’t let them off’,” said Svendsen.

Alone with the driver, the hijacker ordered his to continue the journey. By then, the police had begun to give chase, eventually catching up with the bus at nearby Bjørnstad.

Once the bus had stopped the 24-year-old took to his heels . He was arrested at 8pm, around 700 metres from where the bus had pulled in.

Police said the driver had emerged physically unscathed.

”But he was very shaken by the incident,” said investigating officer Jens Arne Bærland.

Prosecutor Odd Skei Kostveit said the 24-year-old hijacker was a stateless Palestinian who lived in Porsgrunn but did not have a Norwegian passport.

Police have encountered the man on several occasions previously in connection with intoxication and public order offences,

”The man appeared intoxicated on Monday evening and was recently released from psychiatric care,” said Kostveit.

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