Published: Thu, March 21, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Coach driver planned to use 51 pupils in terror attack

Coach driver planned to use 51 pupils in terror attack

"No-one will survive", the driver was alleged to have said. "I lost three children at sea", he said, according to one of the rescued children.

About a dozen children and two of the adults were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation while the driver also needed treatment for burns to his hands.

"He tied us up and took all the telephones so we could not call the police".

The driver had no links with Islamic terrorism and "acted as a lone wolf", Alberto Nobili, head of counter-terrorism at the Milan public prosecutor's office, told a press conference.

Matteo Salvini, Italy's far-right deputy prime minister, said: "At this moment the police are searching his home".

He also sent a video to friends in Italy and Senegal indicating plans for a bold action and with the message, "Africa, Rise up", they said.

On Tuesday, around 50 people were rescued by a charity ship from a rubber boat off the coast of Libya and taken to the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. Prosecutor Greco said the man kept two of the children close to him, brandishing the lighter. "I want to know why someone with similar precedents was driving a bus carrying children?"

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Authorities said that an adult called an emergency operator, while one of the students called a parent, and they alerted authorities, who set up roadblocks. "I hurt my hands a bit picking it up. we were all terrified", the boy told Italian television. The man changed the bus's course, which was taking school children home in Crema after outdoor activities, then announced that he wanted to kill himself to "stop deaths in the Mediterranean Sea" and proceeded to threaten passengers with a knife, the online media outlet reported.

Police blocked the bus in the street and broke open the back windows to get the children out before the vehicle went up in flames.

Another student aboard the bus told Repubblica: 'He was threatening us, saying if we moved he would have poured the gasoline and set a fire.

The driver's motives were not immediately clear and the references to the Mediterranean could be to the thousands of migrants who have crossed from North Africa to Italy, many of them losing their lives on the unsafe journey.

Police said the suspect, who obtained Italian citizenship in 2004, had a criminal record, with convictions for sexual molestation and driving while drunk.

In a statement, the Carabinieri said, "Some pupils have suffered minor injuries".

A teacher who had been on the bus said the suspect - named by police as Ousseynou Sy - was known to be angry about Italy's immigration policy and about the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean.

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