Screenshot of burning bus. YouTube
Cremona

African sets bus with schoolchildren on fire in Italy

A 47-year-old African bus driver was held by Carabinieri police on Wednesday after he hijacked a bus with Italian schoolchildren and set the bus on fire. The Senegalese migrant tied the hands of the children with plastic electrical ties in an attempt to kill them, sources said.

Published: March 21, 2019, 7:51 am

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    The terror unleashed by the African on the children in the bus, lasted for almost 40 minutes. The Senegalese attacker said he was angry at government migrant policy, and confiscated the phones of his passengers while telling them that no one would survive.

    The attacker Ousseynou Sy, hijacked the bus with 51 pupils from a middle school in the northern province of Cremona. Sy, originally from Senegal, has a criminal record and has been Italian citizen since 2004.

    He said he wanted to kill himself and “stop the deaths in the Mediterranean,” according to sources, and ordered a teacher to tie the children’s hands with plastic ties. The teacher only attached the ties to four or five of the children, and so loosely that they could easily free themselves afterwards, local sources told the media.

    “No one will survive,” the attacker told his victims after hijacking the vehicle outside San Donato near Milan, according to Carabinieri Provincial Commander Luca De Marchis.

    But one boy, a 13-year-old, managed to hide his phone from the assaillant and call the police. Before the police could intervene, the suspect had also tried to ram through a road block.

    When law enforcement finally stopped the bus, the migrant tried to escape from the vehicle while setting it alight, having poured petrol inside. But the Carabinieri managed to get the children out to safety out by smashing the rear windows.

    “The flames broke out while some children were still inside,” the colonel confirmed to Italian daily La Reppublica. “In those moments of great excitement the Senegalese decided to get off the bus, but he was blocked – he has burns to his hands.”

    The suspect admitted to having brought a kitchen knife, while not confirming that he had a gun, although some witnesses say they caught a glimpse of it.

    Twelve children and two adults were taken to hospital after suffering smoke inhalation, sources said. The bus was severely damaged and is a write-off.

    A teacher who accompanied the children said that it was not the first time Sy drove a bus with pupils on board. “We knew him” the teacher said, adding that the hijacker was angry about the government’s migrant policy.

    “He wanted to get to the runway at (Milan’s) Linate (airport)”.

    One of his victims, a girl, said “he handcuffed us and threatened us. He said that if we moved he would pour our the petrol and light the fire. He kept saying that people in Africa are dying and the fault is [Luigi] Di Maio and [Matteo] Salvini’s. Then the Carabinieri saved us”.

    Another girl said “he took our phones but one schoolmate managed to keep his. We were cuffed with electrician’s ties. He told us nothing would happen but threatened to pour the petrol”. He also reportedly threatened to “carry out a massacre”.

    A friend of the boy who hid his phone, a 12-year-old, said his friend “was clear-minded, he was smart. The driver took all our phones but he managed to keep one and called the Carabinieri”.

    He added: “Later I called the emergency services and we tried to explain where we were”.

    Sy will face possible charges of kidnapping, attempted mass murder, causing a fire and resisting arrest, judicial sources said. “It was a miracle they survived and we have to thank the Carabinieri for that,” said Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco.

    He said the prosecutors were also weighing terrorism charges against Sy. “The intention to commit mass murder had started ad the man was about to torch (the children) as he then did the bus,” said Greco, thanking Carabinieri for an operation that was “like something that you see in films about special forces”.

    Greco said Sy had admitted his actions had been premeditated. Prosecutors said they were currently trying to establish if Sy, who was employed by the Autoguidovie bus firm, was fit to drive.

    Sy had a criminal record for driving while intoxicated in 2007 and in 2018 he received a suspended sentence for child sexual violence. The Autoguidovie company released statement saying that “the man, our collaborator since at least 2002, had been in full-time service since 2004. Over the years he has never shown any imbalance, nor have we ever received complaints about his conduct as a driver. We were not aware of his criminal record”.

    Carabinieri has called Sy’s wife in for questioning She left the Carabinieri barracks at Castelleone without saying anything to the media however.

    The mainstream media tried to blame Italy’s coalition government for the hijacking and migrants deaths at sea, even though Interior Minister Matteo Salvini’s policies have brought down the number of migrants drowned while trying to cross Mediterranean Sea.

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