posted on Feb, 7 2005 @ 05:07 AM
BC-Switzerland-Spain-Consulate Seized, 4th Ld-Writethru,0320
Spain says assailants who took over consulate in Bern have left the
Eds: LEADS throughout to UPDATE with Spanish official saying three
intruders have left consulate.
BERN, Switzerland (AP) -- Spain's foreign minister said Monday
that three assailants who had seized its consulate in the Swiss
capital have left the building and that it appeared to have been a
Miguel Angel Moratinos told Spain's national news agency Efe
that the intruders' nationalities were not immediately known and
they had gone in wearing masks and trying to commit a robbery.
He said no Spanish consulate staff members were hurt but a
security guard was injured.
Hours earlier, Swiss police said that unidentified assailants
had taken over the consulate and were believed to have seized at
least one hostage.
Bern City Police spokeswoman Franziska Frey told The Associated
Press that officers sealed off part of the Kirchenfeld neighborhood
after they were alerted shortly after 8 a.m.
"We received information about a hostage seizure," said Frey.
"I don't know any more right now."
Many foreign diplomatic missions are located in the upscale part
of the city.
Police said they did not know how many people were involved in
the seizure. It was not immediately clear whether they were armed
or what their demands were.
There have been a handful of previous security crises at foreign
embassies and consulates in Switzerland, notably in 1999.
In February that year, members of Switzerland Kurdish community
staged a daylong, peaceful occupation of the Greek embassy in Bern,
as well as the Greek consulate in Zurich and United Nations offices
in Geneva. They were protesting Greece's help in the capture of
Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan and his handover to Turkey.
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 02-07-05 0556EST