A 47-year-old man from Senegal was arrested in Italy after setting a bus of school children on fire, claiming he was seeking revenge for migrants who have died at sea.
A total of 51 children were aboard the bus when the Senegalese migrant, who was previously driving the vehicle, started spraying liquid on the seats of the bus and then set them on fire, Il Giornale reports.
The Italian interior minister revealed the driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin had previously been in contact with police over drunk driving and sexual assault. Italian investigators are considering whether there was a terrorist motive.
One of the children aboard the bus was able to phone the Italian police while the man was spraying liquid and officers quickly reacted, forcing the bus off the road by ramming it with their vehicles.
All of the passengers aboard then managed to get off the bus as carabinieri officers subsequently arrested the 47-year-old and placed him into custody. One pupil was taken immediately to the hospital due to injuries while another 14 were later transported for checks to their health.
The man, later identified as Ousseynou Sy, was also taken to a local hospital following his arrest where he told officers, “I wanted to avenge the deaths at sea. I’ll commit a massacre in Linate.”
A pupil told police, “He handcuffed us and threatened us. He said that if we moved, he would pour gasoline and light the fire. He kept saying that people in Africa die and the fault is Di Maio’s and Salvini’s. Then the carabinieri [police] saved us.”
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Populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini reacted to the incident saying, “A Senegalese with Italian citizenship at the wheel of a school bus, with [prior accusations] for driving in the state of intoxication and sexual assault, hijacked the vehicle and finally set fire to it.”
“I want to say clearly: why did a person with [these prior accusations] drive a coach to transport kids?” he added.
Milan prosecutor Alberto Nobili also commented saying it was “conceivable” that the act could be investigated as an attempted act of terror.
Since Salvini closed the borders to pro-migrant transport NGOs last year, the number of migrants coming to Italy has been reduced significantly.
The number of drownings in the Mediterranean sea has also dropped in large part due to Salvini’s policy, according to reports from January of this year.