Bus hostage crisis defused

An apparently mentally disturbed man armed with a shotgun took over an Athens bus near central Omonia Square yesterday, holding the driver hostage and demanding to see Prime Minister Costas Simitis. Armed police cordoned off the busy area round the terminus of the Omonia-to-Chrysoupolis bus, on the corner of Zinonos and Voulgari streets, and eventually talked Vassilis Manis, 47, into surrendering his shotgun and giving himself up 45 minutes later. Manis entered the bus after all the passengers had disembarked, pulled a shotgun from under his jacket and threatened to shoot the driver. He demanded a meeting with Simitis to brief the PM on his trouble finding a job, and asked police to inform the Public Order Ministry that several members of the November 17 terrorist group were still at large. Manis’s parents said their son had been treated for mental illness after the death of his sister in a traffic accident and his subsequent separation from his wife.