Hamburg airport hostage standoff ends with child freed, suspect arrested

The 18-hour drama started after a man drove his car through the airport gate with his four-year-old daughter inside.

Hamburg airport
Special forces detain a suspect after he drove through a barrier onto the grounds of the Hamburg airport with a child in his car [Fabian Bimmer/Reuters]

Police in Germany’s Hamburg city have arrested a man and rescued a child at the centre of a hostage standoff at the airport, ending an 18-hour crisis that had forced authorities to close the busy air hub.

A man, who police on Sunday said was suspected of carrying a gun and possibly explosives, drove a vehicle through the gates of the airport on Saturday night, officers said.

Police said the 35-year-old man was with his four-year-old daughter and was thought to be involved in a custody dispute.

“The hostage situation is over,” the city’s police force wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The suspect got out of the car with his daughter. The man was arrested by the emergency services without resistance. The child appears to be unharmed.”

The apparent family drama started on Saturday in Stade in nearby Lower Saxony, where the man’s wife was staying. The woman had contacted the state police about a possible abduction.

The Hamburg police wrote on X that they were “assuming that a custody dispute is the background to the operation”.

The man, 35, held the girl hostage in the car, as she could be heard in the background during the negotiations which were conducted in Turkish, a police spokeswoman told dpa news agency.

The man broke through the airport gate around 8pm (19:00 GMT) on Saturday, shot into the air and threw incendiary devices from the car. His car was then parked next to a Turkish Airlines plane for more than 18 hours.

The police tried for hours to end the hostage-taking without bloodshed – finally succeeding early on Sunday afternoon.

For the Hamburg police, it was “one of the longest and most challenging operations in recent history,” according to Andy Grote, the interior senator for Hamburg, who thanked the police for ending the standoff.

“I wish the mother, the child and her family a lot of strength to cope with this terrible experience,” Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher wrote on X.

The Hamburg airport said it was working to resume operations as quickly as possible. A total of 286 flights with around 34,500 passengers had been scheduled for Sunday, authorities earlier said.

The episode raised concerns over security at the airport less than four months after climate activists got onto its runway and blocked planes.

Source: News Agencies