The Turkish gunman who kidnapped his daughter before barricading himself at Hamburg Airport in a dramatic 18-hour standoff had argued with his the girl’s mother before taking the child by force, German police have revealed.
The father was arrested after he rammed his car through a security gate and threw Molotov cocktails on a runway while holding his four-year-old daughter hostage in his car.
The situation had been ongoing for almost 18 hours, with officials shutting the busy airport as negotiations with the 35-year-old, who has been named as Salman E by German newspaper Bild, continued throughout the night.
Hamburg Police added the released child appeared not be injured and the arrest was made without resistance. Hamburg Airport will remain closed while investigations continue, with ‘flight operations suspended indefinitely until further notice’.
Authorities have said they believe the terrifying ordeal was sparked over a custody dispute after the desperate ex-wife of the gunman previously reported a possible child abduction.
German police have now said that the man had been investigated as early as March last year on suspicion of kidnapping minors after he had traveled to Turkey with his daughter without authorization.
The child was then later brought back to Germany by the mother, they added, without adding any further details.
The father was arrested after he rammed his car through a security gate and threw Molotov cocktails on a runway at Hamburg Airport
The 35-year-old father is said to have rammed his Audi onto the airport around 8pm local time last night, barricading himself to the foot of a Turkish Airlines plane. Pictured: Negotiations ongoing this morning before his arrest
Special forces detain a suspect, after a man drove through a barrier onto the grounds of the city’s airport with a child in his car in Hamburg
Hamburg Police said this afternoon that the released child appeared not be injured and the arrest was made without resistance
Police vehicles and ambulances arrive at the scene of a security breach at the Hamburg Airport last night
Last night, the armed man ploughed his Audi, which had the licence plates removed, through an airport barrier at around 8pm local time (7pm GMT).
He fired a weapon twice and then threw two burning bottles out of the vehicle, police said. The driver then barricaded himself to the foot of a Turkish Airlines plane.
Bild reported that Salman had gone to the home of his ex-wife after using a false advertisement online, using a fake email address and fake name to reportedly meet his former partner and child.
He is then said to have kidnapped their daughter, speeding away towards the airport in his black Audi, the paper said.
Following the shocking events this weekend, Hamburg Police said on X this afternoon: ‘The hostage situation is over. The suspect got out of the car with his daughter. The man was arrested by the emergency services without resistance. The child appears to be unharmed.’
In a statement, the airport said today: ‘The situation at the airport remains unchanged, the police operation continues. Flight operations will remain suspended indefinitely until further notice.
‘The police action has ended. Preparations are underway to resume flight operations as quickly as possible. We are in close coordination with the security forces as to when the access roads and terminals will be reopened.’
Yesterday evening the airport was quickly shut down with 3,200 passengers reportedly being evacuated from planes parked on the runway.
This morning police psychologists attended the airport trying to negotiate a solution with the driver. Officers had been communicating to the man through a translator speaking in Turkish.
Access roads to the airport were closed off and members of the public were warned to stay away from any terminals as the negotiations continued.
The force reiterated that traffic measures around the huge airport remain in place and that entering the airport remains impossible.
In an earlier update this morning, officers said they assumed the man ‘is in possession of a live firearm and possibly also explosive devices of an unknown type’.
‘Our top priority is protecting the child,’ the force said early today. ‘According to our current findings, the child is doing well physically.’
Officers of German BFE police unit stand on the apron of Hamburg Airport last night while passengers are evacuated
Police vehicles closed off a road leading up to Hamburg Airport following reports of a ‘hostage situation’ last night
Special police arrives at the airport in Hamburg following the shocking incident yesterday evening
This morning, Police Hamburg and Hamburg Airport said the airport remained closed as negotiations with the father continue. The situation has now been ongoing for more than 12 hours
The mother of the abducted girl arrived at the airport today and was receiving psychological support, German news agency dpa reported.
‘The mother naturally wants to get to her child as quickly as possible,’ Malte Stueben, the head of the German Red Cross crisis intervention team in Hamburg, told dpa.
A paediatrician also arrived at the airport to look after the girl once the hostage-taking is over, the news agency reported.
Hundreds of people whose flights could not depart on Saturday night because of the situation were put up at hotels nearby.
Arriving planes were either re-routed to other German airports or cancelled.
Police spokeswoman Sandra Levgrun told the regional channel of public television NDR that it is believed a father and his child are in the car.
She called it a ‘very good sign’ that he had remained in contact with the authorities over a prolonged period of time.
The incident has caused major and ongoing disruption throughout one of Europe’s busiest airports.
On Saturday evening alone 17 flights scheduled to land in Hamburg were diverted. Another 286 flight are scheduled for today, carrying some 34,500 passengers.
At present 61 flights – 34 departures and 27 arrivals – have been cancelled, with more expected throughout the day.
A police van watches the car of the hostage taker parked under the Turkish Airlines plane this mroning
Police form a huddle at the airport this morning, as the hostage situation continued until the man was finally arrested
Police officers were pictured stood outside Hamburg Airport while passengers were evacuated last night
Passengers were evacuated from Hamburg Airport today after a gunman drove through the airport at around 8pm local time yesterday
Police pictured this morning near the runway, as the man remains in his car with a four-year-old girl
Police vehicles were pictured blocking access to Hamburg Airport
After firing the shots, the man threw two burning bottles out of the vehicle. Footage showed fires on the tarmac
Armed police patrol the airport as passengers were evacuated
Police guard the scene of a security breach at the Hamburg Airport after a vehicle broke through
Fire Department vehicles arrive at a security scene at the Hamburg Airport. Flights have been axed
Firemen, rescue workers and police stand outside the airport in Hamburg as police deal with a ‘hostage situation’
Last night a large number of officers from state and federal police were on site and in the vicinity of the vehicle, federal police spokesman Thomas Gerbert told German news agency dpa.
Police said no one appeared to be injured, but the airport announced it was closed for takeoffs and landings.
Bild reported that the gunman drove in front of Terminal 1 in an Audi without a number plate.
The driver initially sped away but a few minutes later broke through a security barrier at the north gate and drove towards the planes.
He is said to have started fires in the airport area by throwing burning bottles out of the car which were described as ‘a kind of Molotov cocktails’ by police spokesman Mr Gerbert.
Footage shared on social media shows flames on the tarmac as fire crews rushed to the scene.
Passengers are evacuated from Hamburg Airport on November 5 after the incident
Parts of a destroyed barrier are removed form a gate at the airport in Hamburg after the gunman drove through a gate
A bus from Hamburgs public transport service displays an ‘Evacuation’ message on a display outside of Hamburg Airport
Special forces, fire crews and officers all descended on the scene as a major police operation remaining underway this morning.
Police said that all terminals were evacuated – as was an aircraft which the armed man parked next to.
The passenger plane was full but its understood everyone has been evacuated and a collection point was set up at the nearby Radisson Blue hotel opposite the airport.
Police also said that a psychologist was talking with the man and that there was no indication other people could be harmed since all passengers had evacuated the airport.