Iranian takes 15 hostage on Swiss train, shot dead by police

BERLIN — An Iranian asylum seeker was shot dead by police in Switzerland after taking 15 people hostage on a train, authorities reported Friday.

Armed with an ax and knife, the man, 32, held the hostages on a train in the town of Essert-sous-Champvent in the Swiss canton of Vaud near the French border for almost four hours on Thursday night.

“The hostages were all released unharmed,” police in the Vaud canton said in a statement on Friday that only identified the man as an Iranian asylum seeker. “The hostage taker was fatally wounded during the intervention.”

The ordeal began around 6:35 p.m. local time, after the train driver was forced to leave his post and join the other passengers. Police said the hostage taker spoke a mixture of Farsi and English.

Alerted by people trapped on the train, around 60 officers arrived at the scene soon after and closed off the area, about 40 miles west of the Swiss capital of Bern.

Negotiations with the hostage-taker were carried out with the help of a Farsi interpreter and partially over the messaging service WhatsApp on hostages’ cellphones. At a press briefing following the incident, Vaud canton police spokesman Jean-Christophe Sauterel said authorities ultimately decided to storm the train and carried out a maneuver that kept the man away from the hostages.

“A hostage-taker stormed towards the emergency team with his ax, a police officer used his weapon to protect the hostages and fatally hit the perpetrator,” Sauterel said. The man died at the scene.

The hostages received medical and psychological care and were taken to a police station and were questioned. Relatives were also waiting for them.

The motive behind the incident remains unclear, according to police.

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