Taiwan hostages freed after 21-hour standoff

Taiwan hostages freed after 21-hour standoff
PHOTO: The New Paper

TAIPEI, Taiwan --The standoff between police and an armed fugitive who took three students hostage in Taitung City came to a close on Tuesday.

The suspect, a 36-year-old man named Lin Kuo-cheng, surrendered his two pistols and released his remaining hostage at around 4:30 p.m. The other two students were released on Monday night.

All three were students at National Taitung University.

According to the Chinese-language Apple Daily, the suspect had called reporters after he took the three students hostage, saying he had been framed by a policeman, surnamed Chen, who Lin accused of taking bribes.

Lin said he had previously tried to recover unpaid debt with his two friends, but a friend's father handed him a gun, and the policeman later reported him as a prime suspect in a separate case of abduction.

In response, a reporter asked the suspect to remain calm and not do anything to harm the hostages. "I said I won't (harm them)," Lin exclaimed.

Police and Mayor Negotiated Release

After receiving a tip-off regarding the abduction case, police officers arrived at the hostel Lin was staying at 7 p.m. on Monday. Lin subsequently escaped via the rooftop, and entered a private residence.

After realizing he was surrounded by police, the suspect took three students staying in the apartment hostage, police stated.

Lin held the hostages on the third floor. A few hours later, nearly 40 police officers were called in to stand guard on the first and second floors.

Taitung City Mayor Chang Kuo-chou also arrived on the scene to negotiate with the fugitive on Monday morning.

During the standoff, Lin pointed a gun to his head, attempting to commit suicide, Chang said. Throughout the process, the suspect had also requested food, water and to have his ex-girlfriend brought to the scene.

Hostages 'baffled'

The first two hostages released on Monday told reporters the experience was surreal, "like a movie scene," according to the Central News Agency.

The students said they were working on their assignments, and then suddenly they heard loud sounds from a TV coming from their roommate's room across the hall. They initially did not think too much about it, assuming their roommate had friends over.

A moment later, their roommate knocked on their door and walked in, with Lin trailing behind him with a pistol.

Lin said that he was not a thief and he would not hurt them, but he hoped they would co-operate, one of the former hostages said.

One student said that even after release, they still felt baffled and could not believe what had happened.

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