Police in Switzerland have shot and killed a man armed with an axe and a knife who took 15 passengers hostage on a train on Thursday night.
The suspect, reported to be a 32-year-old asylum seeker from Iran, boarded a local train near Yverdon. The suspect, who speaks English and Farsi, forced the driver to stop the train and join the passengers in the carriage.
According to a local media report, nearly four hours after the incident began, police stormed the train after trying to negotiate with the man through an interpreter.
More than 60 police officers, including a special unit from Geneva, stormed the train and fatally wounded the suspect. The suspect allegedly attacked the officers, who engaged in gunfire against him immediately after they discovered that he held the passengers hostage.
Police spokesperson Jean-Christophe Sauterel gave the reporters a statement following the incident.
“As the hostage-taker rushed with his axe in the direction of the intervention group, a police officer used his weapon to protect the hostages, fatally hitting the perpetrator,” Sauterel said. “For the moment, there are no elements which direct us towards a terrorist or extremist act.”
According to BBC News, passengers alerted authorities of the alleged hostage situation before the police arrived. Officers used stun grenades to storm the train as soon as the suspect moved away from the hostages.
Switzerland: Police shoot dead axe-wielding hostage-taker on train https://t.co/FZ53dusEVd
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 9, 2024
The outlet also reports that all hostages were released from the train without any injuries. Swiss health services are supporting the hostages and their families through their psychological department.
Police said that the motive for the hostage-taking is unclear. One passenger on the train said the suspect looked very stressed. However, Vincent Derouand, a spokesperson for the Vaud prosecutors’ office, said an investigation was ongoing to determine the suspect’s motive.
Little information is known about the suspect, except that he was originally from Iran and had been assigned to an asylum seeker center in Neuchatel.
BBC News also reports that hostage dramas are rare in Switzerland but have previously taken place at banks and businesses. In January 2022, employees at a watch-making firm were taken hostage and forced to open a vault.