Chiara Fiorillo, Associated Press, March 20, 2019
A Senegalese man abducted 51 children when he hijacked an Italian school bus and set the vehicle alight in a protest over migrant deaths in the Mediterranean.
Ousseynou Sy, originally Senegalese but with Italian citizenship, stopped the bus he was driving, with two classes of high school students on board.
He was said to have ordered the children’s hands to be bound and threatened to kill them and himself during the drive, before setting the vehicle on fire when he was stopped by a police blockade today.
Officers broke the glass in the back door of the bus and got all the passengers to safety without serious injury before the flames destroyed the vehicle, authorities said.
As he was apprehended, the driver said he was protesting migrant deaths in the Mediterranean, Commander Luca De Marchis told Sky TG24.
The incident happened in San Donato Milanese, a town near Milan, Italy.
De Marchis told Sky TG24 that the driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin in his 40s, threatened the passengers, telling them that ‘no one would survive today’ as he commandeered the bus carrying two middle-school classes in Cremona province, some 25 miles (40 kilometres) from Milan.
ANSA quoted one of the students as saying the driver took all their phones and ordered the chaperones to bind the students’ hands with cable ties, threatening to spill gas and set the bus ablaze.
‘While two officers kept the driver busy – he took a lighter and threatened to set fire to the vehicle with a gasoline canister on board – the others forced open the back door,’ De Marchis said. While the evacuation was underway, the driver started the blaze.
ANSA identified him as Ousseynou Sy, and said he was being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping, intention to commit mass murder, arson and resisting law enforcement.
ANSA reported that Sy, who became an Italian citizen in 2004, had been convicted in 2007 and 2011 of drunken driving and sexual molestation of a minor.
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that, before setting light to the bus, the man shouted: ‘I want to be done, deaths in the Mediterranean must be stopped.’
Sy, who has been an Italian citizen since 2004, has a criminal record for driving in a state of drunkenness and for a case of sexual abuse on a minor, the Italian newspaper reported.