Police prevent hostage fireball

A hostage crisis in Athens ended peacefully yesterday morning after a taverna owner who had held a man and woman captive inside his restaurant for over six hours and threatened to blow himself up, surrendered to police. Shortly after 1 a.m. the unnamed Egyptian national barricaded himself inside the taverna, in the western suburb of Haidari, with a woman who co-owned the restaurant and an Albanian man who was a friend of his. The Egyptian had been drinking heavily, officers said. He then dragged two large natural gas cylinders onto a table and threatened to set fire to them. Police were informed of the incident, cordoned off the area and ordered residents from surrounding apartment blocks to evacuate their homes. Officers negotiated with the taverna owner until just after 7 a.m., when he let his hostages go and surrendered shortly afterward. The Egyptian had been angered by demands from authorities for him to remove his restaurant’s chimney, after complaints by locals, officers said. He was told that if he did not take it down promptly, he would lose his restaurant license.

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