A bus full of school children in Italy was set on fire by its driver in the outskirts of Milan on Wednesday in protest of migrants who have drowned due to the country’s hardline stance on blocking migrant vessels, according to Reuters.
Police were called to the scene and quickly managed to get everyone to safety before arresting the man.
The driver, Ousseynou Sy, a 47-year-old Senegalese-born Italian with a criminal record, reportedly shouted “Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre” according to police spokesman Marco Palmieri.
All of the children were able to escape before the bus was completely engulfed in flames. One child told reporters that the man had threatened to pour gas on them and set them ablaze.
A video posted on Italian news sites showed the driver ramming the bus into cars on a provincial highway before the fire took hold. Children can be seen running away from the vehicle screaming and shouting “escape”.
Palmieri said some children were taken to hospital as a precautionary measure because they had bruises or were in a state of shock, but none suffered serious injuries. –Reuters
Italy’s Interior Minister, Matteo Salvini, drew criticism from pro-migrant groups after he closed the country’s ports to NGO migrant vessels ferrying mostly North African refugees across the Mediterranean – resulting in several standoffs between Italian authorities and migrant boats which made international headlines.
Most recently, Salvini refused to allow a ship with 49 migrants, the Mare Jonio, to dock – saying that the passengers “can be treated, dressed and fed. We can give them every manner of comfort, but they will not set foot in Italy.”
— MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) March 18, 2019
Salvini said that the Italian vessel had not carried out a rescue operation – but instead “aided illegal immigration.”
Salvini issued a directive on Monday saying ships rescuing people in areas of the Mediterranean under Libyan responsibility, during operations not coordinated by the command centre in Rome, have no right to use Italy as a port of safety.
Meanwhile Lampedusa mayor Totò Martello has said that the migrants are welcome on the island and he does not consider its ports closed.
“At sea there are no directives,” he told the news publication AdnKronos. “If there is a need and I ask to be let in, in short, you have to let me in. That’s all there is to it”. –The Local
Salvini said that any infringement of international maritime or Italian law “can be read as a premeditated action to bring illegal immigrants to Italy and facilitate human trafficking.”