Hamburg Airport: Four-year-old hostage held on tarmac

Police secure the apron at Hamburg airport
Image caption,Hamburg Airport is closed as negotiations with the suspect continue

By Jaroslav Lukiv & Kathryn Armstrong

BBC News

Police in Germany are dealing with a hostage situation at Hamburg Airport after an armed man drove through a security barrier and onto the tarmac.

It is understood that the man, 35, and a child, 4, remain in the vehicle which is parked under a plane.

Officers are in contact with the driver, who entered the airport on Saturday evening at about 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT).

The airport has been closed and all flights indefinitely suspended.

A spokeswoman for the Hamburg police on Sunday described the ongoing situation as “tense” but said the fact that the suspect was still communicating with them was a good sign.

“We have to consider that he has a gun with him and we also have to consider that he possibly has some explosive devices with him,” Sandra Levgruen told German broadcaster ZDF, adding that the child is thought to be unharmed.

The situation began when the man drove his car to the airport’s apron, the area where aircraft are usually parked. According to local media, he parked under a Turkish Airlines plane.

Police said the man shot his weapon twice in the air and threw burning bottles from the vehicle.

The authorities believe that the situation involves a “custody dispute”. The child’s mother is reported to have alerted emergency services that the four-year-old had been taken.

Ms Levgruen said the man did not agree with some decisions made by the authorities in relation to the custody arrangement and wanted to travel to Turkey with the child.

“He speaks about his life being a heap of shards,” she said.

Local media have also reported that the negotiations with him are being conducted in Turkish through a translator but it is unclear what his connection to the country is.

Psychologists as well as officers specialised in negotiations are on site, police said, along with special forces.

Around half of the departures and arrivals planned for Sunday have been cancelled, with some flights diverted, according to Hamburg Airport. They have warned there will be further delays and cancellations throughout the day.

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