Hamburg airport 'hostage situation': Gunman drives onto runway; flights halted

Police say they believe 'that a custody dispute is the background to this operation'

By AFP

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Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Published: Sun 5 Nov 2023, 7:16 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Nov 2023, 1:48 PM

Air traffic at Hamburg airport remained suspended Sunday over a suspected hostage situation on the tarmac involving a child, local authorities said.

A gunman rammed his car through the security area onto the apron where planes are parked on Saturday evening, firing two shots in the air and flinging two burning bottles out of the vehicle, police said.

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On Sunday morning the airport management posted on X, formerly Twitter, that efforts to negotiate with the driver of the vehicle were still ongoing.

"The police operation continues, air traffic remains suspended until further notice," posted the management of the northern German airport.

Police spokeswoman Sandra Levgrun told the regional channel of public television NDR that it is believed a father and his child are in the car.

Authorities have said a "custody dispute" is believed to be the cause of the incident, with the wife of the driver placing an emergency call alerting police to the abduction of her child.

The daily Bild newspaper reported that the driver is 35 years old and of Turkish nationality, and that the child is a girl aged four years old.

The driver has barricaded himself in his car at the foot of a Turkish Airlines plane.

"We are on site with a large contingent of emergency services. We are currently assuming a static hostage situation," Hamburg police had posted earlier on X.

Levgrun told NDR that police psychologists had been mobilised to try to negotiate a solution with the driver.

She called it a "very good sign" that he had remained in contact with the authorities over a prolonged period of time.

On Saturday evening, 17 flights scheduled to land in Hamburg were diverted. Another 286 flight are scheduled for Sunday, carrying some 34,500 passengers.

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