Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Spanish Consulate in Switzerland stormed

BERN, Switzerland (AP) - Swiss special forces stormed the Spanish Consulate on Monday to end a hostage standoff - but the three men who attacked the building in an apparent robbery had fled hours earlier and managed to elude authorities, police said.
Officers hunted for three, who spoke broken French and forced their way into the consulate, demanding that the staff open the safe, said police Maj. Peter Theilkaes.
The three masked assailants seized the consulate shortly before 8 a.m. (2 a.m. EST), Monday, taking three people hostage, but apparently left the building almost immediately and before police arrived, said Theilkaes, who led the police operation.
Special forces stormed the consulate to bring an end to a standoff, but the suspects, who were armed with knives and a handgun, had left the building about six hours earlier, authorities said. No shots were fired.
``As soon as it was ascertained that no more consulate workers were in the building, the police checked the building and found it empty,'' the statement said. ``The assailants had already fled. From that, we conclude that the attack was of a criminal nature and did not have a political background.'' Neither the workers nor the police knew the intruders had left the building.


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