A crime suspect brandishing a hand grenade has forced a senior police officer to drive him for hours through the Ukrainian countryside before leaving the hostage in the car and fleeing into a forest.
Police said on Thursday the released hostage was unharmed and the operation to arrest the kidnapper was continuing.
The incident started when officers tried to arrest the man accused of stealing a car outside a court building in the city of Poltava. He took one of them hostage and threatened to blow up the officer and himself with a hand grenade.
He then agreed to swap the officer for the chief of regional criminal police, who took the wheel of a car provided by police at the kidnapper’s request.
Police vehicles chased the car for several hours along country roads. Officials identified the kidnapper as 32-year-old Roman Skripnik, who had three criminal convictions for theft, fraud and drug possession.
The incident in Poltava came just two days after another armed man in Ukraine seized 13 hostages on a bus in the western city of Lutsk and held them for more than 12 hours before surrendering to police. All hostages were freed unharmed.
Tuesday’s attacker agreed to release the hostages following a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who agreed to post a video urging all Ukrainians to watch Earthlings, a 2005 American documentary exposing humanity’s cruel exploitation of animals.