Austrian bank hostage held for hours freed; suspect arrested

A man armed with fake weapons held a taxi driver hostage for about six hours Friday at a bank in a small Austrian town.

The standoff with police in Erpfendorf, an Alpine town near the German border in Tyrol province, started late Friday morning. Police said the explosives he claimed to have with him turned out to be fake as was his gun, the Austria Press Agency reported.

The bank's employees were able to leave the building unharmed.

After several hours of negotiations, police say the hostage-taker agreed in the late afternoon to free his victim. The kidnapper, a 28-year-old local man, then left the bank himself and was arrested.


The victim was a 32-year-old taxi driver who had brought the hostage-taker to the bank. Police official Edelbert Kohler said the two men knew each other.

The hostage-taker claimed to have put an explosive belt on his victim, but that turned out to be a belt filled with stones. It wasn't immediately clear what his motive was.