Senegal-Born Man Tries to Set Bus With Children Ablaze Near Milan

Leroy Wright
March 21, 2019

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.

The wreckage of a bus that was set ablaze by its driver in protest against the treatment of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, is seen on a road in Milan, Italy, March 20, 2019.

The driver had no links with Islamic terrorism and "acted as a lone wolf", Alberto Nobili, head of counter-terrorism at the Milan public prosecutor's office, told a press conference. "He shouted "Stop the deaths at sea, I'll carry out a massacre", spokesperson Marco Palmieri quoted the driver as telling the police after his arrest.

Another student aboard the bus told Repubblica: 'He was threatening us, saying if we moved he would have poured the gasoline and set a fire.

A 47-year-old man was held by Carabinieri police on Wednesday after allegedly hijacking a bus with schoolchildren aboard and subsequently setting it on fire in an apparent attempt to kill them, sources said.

Sy ordered a teacher to clamp the kids' hands with plastic ties and subjected his passengers to about 40 minutes of terror as he railed at the government's migrant policy and confiscated their cell phones.

"No one is getting out of here alive", he said, according to several of the students.

The Year 2 students were coming back from a sports outing at San Donato Milanese, in northern Italy, when the driver abruptly changed route, announcing he was taking them all hostage.

The remains of the bus
The remains of the bus

"One of the telephones, belonging to a classmate, fell to the ground, so I pulled off the handcuffs, hurting myself a bit, and went and picked it up". Authorities were able to set up a roadblock based on information from an adult and a student who called a parent.

"He tied us all up and seized all mobile phones so that we could not call the police".

While the evacuation was still underway, the driver started the fire.

De Marchis credited the officers' "swiftness and courage", for getting out all the children and their teachers "with no tragic consequences".

Some of the passengers were treated at a hospital, mostly for cuts and scratches, he said.

Police said the suspect, who obtained Italian citizenship in 2004, had a criminal record, with convictions for sexual molestation and driving while drunk.

The driver had worked for the bus company for 15 years without any employment-related issues, Sky TV24 reported.

'Investigators must clarify how the transport company permitted such a drive a bus, especially one carrying children, ' said Riccardo De Corato, a Milan provincial official for security. Video of the incident's aftermath showed a charred metal frame.

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