Police said commandos stormed a car driven by two desperate and armed bank robbers Thursday, leaving one of their two hostages dead and ending a 53-hour terror spree across West Germany and Holland.
A police spokesman said one woman hostage was killed in the gunfire and that the other hostage and both robbers - who had been on the run since Tuesday night with a booty of $225,000 - were seriously wounded.It was not immediately clear who shot the hostages.
The special police commando squad halted the getaway BMW automobile across the Rhine River from Bonn on an expressway to Frankfurt and stormed the car, the spokesman said.
The robbers had crisscrossed northwestern Germany and part of Holland in five vehicles and terrorized 39 hostages. They shot and killed a 15-year-old Italian boy on a hijacked bus, and a policeman died chasing the robbers.
The two Germans released 23 of 25 passengers from the bus in Holland early Thursday and drove back across the border to Germany with two women hostages in the BMW provided by police, a spokesman said.
They drove through Germany with their two women hostages, bought bandages in a drug store for a wounded female companion and spoke to reporters.
The robbers apparently were heading to a German hospital. Earlier, they accidentally wounded their woman companion in Holland when the two women hostages tried to escape, the spokesman said.
When the robbers, one an escaped convict, entered Holland at 2:30 a.m. with the city bus they were believed to be heading for Schiphol airport outside Amsterdam but they instead traded the bus for a car.
The men, described by reporters who talked to them as drunk and dangerous, shot to death a 15-year-old Italian hostage on the bus before heading toward Holland, police said. His body was thrown on an expressway.
Their gunfire also wounded a reporter for the West German news service DPA, police said. In Bremen, a policeman trailing the bus was killed in a car collision.
The drama began Tuesday at 8 a.m. when they took over the Deutsche Bank in Gladbeck, a town in the industrial Ruhr 60 miles north of the West German capital of Bonn. They were given free passage by police and escaped with two bank employees as hostages and a booty of $225,000 in an auto provided by police.
The men hijacked at gunpoint the city bus with about 39 passengers aboard when they realized police were closing in on them.
The Italian boy was shot in the stomach after a woman friend of the robbers was seized by police when she went to a lavatory on the expressway.
The police released the woman friend when one of the robbers put a gun at the head of a little girl in the bus and threatened to shoot her if the woman was not freed. A police spokesman said the woman had earlier joined the robbers while they were on the run from authorities.
The robbers later released seven hostages, including the two bank employees seized Tuesday. They forced the bus driver to drive on, shooting out the vehicle's windows as it moved.
The men had threatened to kill the remaining bus passengers and themselves if their demands, including a $160,000 ransom, were not met.
But after driving through the night at 2:30 a.m. the bus crossed into Holland and the robbers released the remaining passengers, except for the two women who had earlier attempted escape.