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German Police Storm Bus to End Standoff

April 11, 2003

BERLIN (AP) _ Police stormed a hijacked city bus to end a 4 1/2-hour standoff Friday, wounding a suspected bank robber who commandeered the yellow double-decker and freeing his remaining two captives unharmed.

Gunfire rang out as the commandos broke windows to get inside the bus. The suspect apparently was shot in the shoulder but his wounds were not life-threatening, police spokesman Christian Matzdorf said.

The two remaining hostages were led quickly out of the bus.

``The hostage-taker is injured, the hostages are unharmed,″ Matzdorf said.

The drama began when two masked men, one with a pistol, robbed a Berlin bank Friday morning, yelling ``Money! Money!,″ according to witnesses. They made off with an unknown sum and the gunman then commandeered the bus just outside the Commerzbank branch in the busy Steglitz shopping district.

More than 20 passengers were aboard the bus, N-24 television reported, though police said they had no precise figure.

Most got away before the bus _ apparently cornered by unmarked police cars _ came to a stop on a thoroughfare in the Schoeneberg district, about an hour after the holdup.

Sharpshooters took up position along a wall about 20 yards away, while police commandos in helmets and bulletproof vests surrounded the bus, some occasionally peering in the windows.

Officials negotiated with the hostage-taker for hours in person and by cell phone to free the two people inside, Matzdorf said.

At least one shot was fired on the bus during the standoff, but no one was believed to have been injured, Matzdorf said.

He refused to say whether the hijacker had made demands.

Police refused to say what happened to the other robbery suspect.

Update hourly