Driver Hijacks, Burns School Bus Full of Children in Italy, Terrorism Not Ruled Out
The man who is from Senegal and has a conviction record was allegedly angry at the Italian government’s anti-immigration policies.
A bus with 51 school children was hijacked and then set on fire near Milan in Italy by its driver, a 47-year-old man from Senegal holding Italian citizenship, in a case in which terrorism is not ruled out by the investigators.
The 40-minute drama with the hijacked and burned school bus in Italy’s northern province of Cremona played out on Wednesday afternoon, with the Senegalese – Italian driver Oussenyou Sy likely angry at the anti-immigration policies of the Italian government, ANSA reported.
Two classes of teenagers and their adult supervisors were being driven from a school in Vailati di Crema to a gym when the driver took a different route, heading for Milan’s Linate airport
“No-one will survive,” bus driver Oussenyou Sy told the scared middle schoolchildren, after threatening them with a knife and collecting their mobile phones; he had poured gas inside the school bus in advance.
A 13-year-old schoolboy, Rahmi, however, managed to hide his phone and called the police.
Before that, Sy forced a teach to tie up the children’s hands with plastic ties but the teacher left four or five of them rather loose so they could free themselves up.
The bus stopped only when it rammed into police vehicles but Sy managed to go out and set it on fire.
Luckily, nobody was hurt as the Italian police managed to rescue all children by smashing the windows at the back of the bus.
During interrogation late on Wednesday night, Sy told the police he had prepared a video before hijacking the school bus full of children to give his reasons for it, and had sent it to acquaintances in Senegal and Italy.
The Italian police investigators are trying to track down the video, police sources told ANSA.
On Thursday, it was revealed that in 2018, Oussenyou Sy received a one-year suspended sentence for harassing a 17-year-old girl back in 2010.
He allegedly managed to hide the conviction from his employer, Autoguidovie, the company that operated the school bus, by using a sick leave during his ban from driving
“It was a miracle, it could have been a massacre,” Milan chief prosecutor Francesco Greco was quoted as saying after the rescue of the kidnapped schoolchildren.
“He shouted, ‘Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre’,” police spokesman Marco Palmieri said.
According to a teacher who had been on the bus, the suspect had been known to be angry about Italy’s immigration policy and about the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean.
Italy’s Interior Minister is investigating the possibility of annulling the driver’s Italian citizenship, AFP reports.
According to a video showing one of the boys from the bus, “[the bus driver] wanted revenge for his daughters” who died at sea while trying to reach Italy
“He wanted revenge for his three daughters and to kill us,” the schoolboy said.
On Wednesday, Milan anti-terrorism prosecutor Alberto Nobili told German news agency DPA that Sy’s motives were unclear, but prosecutors were not ruling out terrorism.
“Yes, we are considering all hypotheses,” Nobili confirmed.
“The important thing is that, thanks to the courage of the children … an event that could have had a tragic outcome had a happy ending,” said Carabinieri police commander Luca De Marchis.
A decree issued in September maked it easier for Italy to deport migrants and take away their citizenship if they commit serious crimes.
Since taking over last summer, Italy’s government has closed its ports to charity rescue ships that pick up migrants off the Libyan coast.
(Banner image: Video grab from ANSA)