AFP: A man armed with grenades and pistols took Tehran pupils hostage Monday in a junior high school siege that ended without any children being harmed, an AFP correspondent on the scene said. by Aresu Eqbali
TEHRAN, Nov 27, 2006 (AFP) – A man armed with grenades and pistols took Tehran pupils hostage Monday in a junior high school siege that ended without any children being harmed, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.
Police escorted the man and his teenage daughter from the building as the freed hostages rushed outside, some crying and others smiling, to join their anxious parents waiting in the street.
“About 80 students were forced by the man to gather in one classroom and after police intervention only 10 were still kept by him before we convinced him to give himself up,” Tehran police Colonel Mohammad Hemmati told reporters.
Police initially said that a man and a woman aged about 35 had taken over the school, but a boy released before the siege ended said a girl of about his own age — 13 — was with the man.
Pupil Milad Nazari Golheydari told AFP the girl with the hostage-taker appeared to be his teenage daughter, and added that the man had four grenades on his belt and two guns.
Golheydari was one of around 30 pupils at Falagh junior high school, aged between 11 to 13, who were released while the siege continued.
Colonel Hemmati said the armed man “seemed to have psychological problems and had different demands… His use of military weapons made it critical to deal with the situation. But nobody was harmed.”
He said the hostage taker had arrived in Tehran from a rural town, bringing grenades and guns with him.
“The man had family problems, like custody problems” over his daughter, another police official, Ahmad Nikaeen, told AFP.
Hundreds of cheering and whistling onlookers applauded as the man and his daughter were escorted by police from the school.
The siege brought traffic to a complete halt for several hours on one of Tehran’s main arteries, Vali Asr Avenue.
Pupils freed while the siege was continuing told reporters that the man said he wanted to see a prosecutor and did not care what happened to him and his daughter “because he was fed up”.
Another police officer, speaking under condition of anonymity, said that the man had problems and that he wanted “to talk to the government”.
Golheydari said the incident began at around 10:00 local time (0630 GMT).
“The man gathered all of us in a room, shot three times at the ground, pointed a gun at our principal and then let some of us go,” he said.
The boy added that the man shouted that he had a problem with the judiciary, and that he was brandishing documents.
Golheydari said the man also shouted “I want to kill myself”.
As he came out of the building the man shouted “I don’t care about my daughter and me dying.”