13 hour bank robbery ends with no injuries in Setúbal, Portugal

Thursday, October 5, 2006

A 13-hour kidnapping of four people by a bank robber in Setúbal, Portugal, ended at dawn Thursday as members of the special operations group stormed the bank facilities.

The kidnapping started yesterday at about 1400 local time (1300 UTC), when a 57 year old man attempted to rob a Banco Espírito Santo's bank at the Rodrigues Manito Avenue, in Setúbal. The alarm was given by a man outside of the bank who noticed the robbery.

The rapid response by the Polícia de Segurança Pública's (PSP) district command of Setúbal forced the robber to barricade himself in the bank with two employees and two clients who were in the bank at the time of the robbery. Cornered, the man decided to take the four people hostage, not allowing many contacts on the part of the police negotiators.

According to a PSP source, the kidnapper was armed with a 6.35m pistol and said to the negotiators that he had a explosive device with him. The police immediately sealed off the block and interrupted all telecommunications in the area, only allowing calls to the Portuguese emergency telephone number.

At 0308 local time (0238 UTC) a dozen members of the Police Special Operations Group (GOE) stormed the bank. According to PSP's officer Manuel Augusto Silva, the kidnapper was armed but was surprised by the members of the GOE team and didn't react, being immediately arrested.

Some minutes later, the two bank employees, a 20 year old women and a 30 year old man left the bank building. The two clients were then handcuffed and escorted from the building and were not identified.

The last to leave the bank was the kidnapper, who left escorted by the police officers and with his head covered.

As the victims, kidnapper and members of the special forces officers left the bank, a bomb disposal unit entered the bank to inspect the possible bomb of the kidnapper. A suspicious package was later detonated by the technicians following security procedures, but no explosives were found.

Although both the Portuguese authorities and news agencies had said that two of the hostages were female, the hostages were in fact three men and a women. Also, the news of a €100,000 ransom requested by the kidnapper wasn't confirmed.

"There wasn't any record of any kind of injuries on the police officers involved, on the four hostages, nor on the detainee" Jerónimo Torrado, officer of the PSP of Setúbal, said.