A man who took 11 hostages at a bank in Tbilisi and made political demands on Facebook has been arrested following a standoff that lasted several hours.
Vazha Siradze, the Chief of the Patrol Police, told journalists that they had detained the hostage-taker and that all the hostages had been released unharmed.
Minutes before the end of the standoff, the Interior Ministry confirmed to journalists that the man had taken 11 hostages, including employees at the office of microfinance company BMC. They said he had released two of them shortly after the standoff began and another six after several hours.
Siradze did not go into details about the attacker’s demands but referred to his statements ‘disseminated in the media’.
Georgian law enforcement units have mobilised near the Tsereteli Metro Station on its namesake avenue outside the MBC microfinance company on Friday evening.
During the standoff. a man claiming to be an employee of MBC broadcasted live via Facebook showing what appeared to be the hostage-taker holding an object in his hand and making demands. In a long rant, the alleged hostage-taker demanded that gambling be banned in Georgia and for the interest rate on bank loans to be limited to 7%.
He complained about pharmaceutical prices and demanded state control over them, and reprimanded MPs for failing to uphold such ideas.
Another video, in which the news is heard playing in the background, the man demands that he be put live on TV.
The incident came four weeks after a man identified by the authorities as Badri Esebua fled the scene after taking 43 individuals hostage in the western Georgian city of Zugdidi. Esebua, who reportedly received $500,000 in cash, still remains at large.
Government critics reprimanded the authorities for their failure to arrest the perpetrator.