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Berlin Bus Hijacked After Bank Robbery

April 11, 2003

BERLIN (AP) _ Two masked men robbed a Berlin bank on Friday, then at least one of them took passengers on a city bus hostage, police said.

At least one shot was fired aboard the double-decker, but it was unclear whether the gunfire came from a hijacker or a policewoman who was among the hostages, police spokesman Christian Matzdorf said.

Police sharpshooters took up position around the bus, which came to a stop on a major thoroughfare between a commuter rail bridge and a highway ramp about an hour after the holdup. Police sealed off the street with red-and-white tape.

While two men robbed the bank, Matzdorf said there was only one hostage-taker aboard the bus. Officials were negotiating with him to free the remaining two captives.

N-24 television reported that more than 20 hostages were on the double-decker. But most apparently were released or escaped, and police said that only the female officer and the bus driver were still being held.

``I saw a man with raised hands getting into the bus through the rear door, evidently a negotiator,″ Manfred Rademacher, who said he could see the scene from his office window, told Radio 100.6. ``Sharpshooters are in position. Some are pointing weapons at the bus.″

The robbers commandeered the bus after holding up a Commerzbank branch in a busy shopping street in the southern district of Steglitz.

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