Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

Attempt to kill busload of children in protest over migrant deaths thwarted in Italy

Ousseynou Sy took bus with 51 children hostage before setting it on fire

Ousseynou Sy, 47, an Italian man of Senegalese origin, blamed his suicide attempt on migrant deaths in Italy. Fewer migrants attempted the perilous Mediterranean crossing toward Europe in 2018, leading to a drop in migrant deaths at sea, amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment. EPA
Ousseynou Sy, 47, an Italian man of Senegalese origin, blamed his suicide attempt on migrant deaths in Italy. Fewer migrants attempted the perilous Mediterranean crossing toward Europe in 2018, leading to a drop in migrant deaths at sea, amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment. EPA

An Italian man of Senegalese origin took hostage the school bus he was driving and threatened to kill himself in protest against the deaths of migrants trying to reach Italy.

“I want to kill myself, deaths in the Mediterranean must be stopped,” said Ousseynou Sy, 47, according to the Italian news agency Ansa.

The man took hostage 51 middle school pupils in the outskirts of Milan before setting the vehicle alight.

Police officers evacuated the students from the bus by breaking the rear windows while the man set the bus on fire. Fourteen people were brought to the hospital due to smoke inhalation.

The man is separated from his Italian wife and has two kids who are 12 and 18 years old.

According to a student who was on the vehicle, Mr Sy repeatedly said that people in Africa are dying and that it was the fault of Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and deputy prime Minister Luigi Di Maio.

Italian police said the man had a criminal record in 2007 and 2011, but did not specify what he had been accused of.

Mr Salvini, who is at the head of the hard-right anti-immigrant League party, promptly reacted to the incident.

“A Senegalese man with Italian citizenship with a criminal record for impaired driving and sexual assault was driving a school bus,” he said. “I want to get to the bottom of this: why did someone with such a criminal record driving a bus used to transport kids?”

Accounts that the man had a knife have been dismissed by the police.

Fewer migrants attempted the perilous Mediterranean crossing toward Europe in 2018, leading to a drop in migrant deaths at sea, amid growing anti-immigrant sentiment. But the route remains deadly, with a slight rise in the number of deaths per migrant who made the crossing.

Many are trapped in Libyan detention centres, where they face torture, arbitrary killings and sexual abuse.

Updated: March 21, 2019 03:14 AM

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