A bus driver in northern Italy abducted 51 children and their school chaperones Wednesday, threatening the hostages' lives for 40 minutes and setting the bus on fire at a police blockade. Officers from the national police force, the Carabinieri, broke windows at the back of the bus to reach the passengers and got all of them out without serious injuries before flames destroyed the vehicle, authorities say. The driver was apprehended and treated for burns. Prosecutors described him as a 47-year-old Italian citizen of Senegalese origin and said he told authorities he wanted to vindicate Europe-bound migrants who have died in the Mediterranean Sea but did not plan to hurt anyone, the AP reports.
However, prosecutors said the suspect, identified as Ousseynou Sy, made preparations that showed his actions were premeditated, such as buying a canister of gasoline and restraints. He also sent a video to friends indicating plans for a bold action and with the message, "Africa, Rise up," they said. Sy is being investigated on suspicion of kidnapping, intention to commit a massacre, arson, and resisting law enforcement, with terrorism as an aggravating circumstance since the event caused panic. Police say the driver, threatening to spill gas and set the bus ablaze, confiscated phones from middle school children and ordered chaperones to bind their hands. "No one will survive today," he allegedly told the bus passengers. One student says he managed to call the police after pulling off the restraints and picking up a phone that had fallen to the ground.
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