Police end Vietnam school hostage drama with tear gas

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A 3-year-old boy, one the two held as hostage by an armed man, is rescued from a Ho Chi Minh City kindergarten Thursday morning.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City Thursday used teargas to overpower a man suspected to be mentally ill who broke into a kindergarten and held two children hostage for two hours.

The man, identified later as Cao Quoc Huy, 28, entered 10A Kindergarten on Go Cam Dem Street in Tan Binh District at 8:30 a.m.

He told the police later that he had originally planned to rob the principal.

A teacher, Nguyen Thi Vinh, told Thanh Nien that she saw Huy threaten the principal Tran Thi Kim Thuy and only released her when she (Vinh) shouted for help.

But then he grabbed two three-year-old-boys who were playing in the yard, took them into a classroom, and locked it from inside, she said.

Teachers rushed the other children into other rooms.

A few minutes later police officers arrived, barricaded the school and nearby streets, and began to negotiate with Huy.

According to Tuoi Tre newspaper, he asked the police to bring him a van, a loaded gun, and VND3.5 million, threatening to kill one of the boys if they did not.

A Thanh Nien correspondent at the scene heard a gunshot inside the school at 10:12 a.m.

Witnesses said at 10:30 they heard shouts. Soon plain-clothes officers marched a man to their car, his face covered by his T-shirt.

An officer also brought out a boy who seemed to be frightened and had minor injuries on his neck and leg. He was whisked away to hospital in an ambulance that was waiting outside.

The principal also sustained minor injuries.

The police said they had to use tear gas to suppress Huy. He told them he had been carrying two knives.

The school is located in a rather deserted street, and has nearly 300 children aged between three and five.

It has a security guard but he was in the kitchen helping with breakfast when Huy entered.

Criminally insane

In 2000 Huy was sent to the Bien Hoa Central Mental Hospital No 2, where the criminally insane are incarcerated, for burning his friend alive while just 16.

His friend had lent him money to bet on football and had demanded it back, inviting Huy's wrath. Authorities decided he was mentally ill and sent him to this facility instead of juvenile prison.

But he was released four years later.
His mother took his medical records Thursday to show the police.

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