WASSERBILLIG, Luxembourg -- For the gunman who held 25 preschoolers and their teachers at gunpoint for 30 hours, a desire for publicity apparently proved his undoing.
Police posing as television journalists lured the hostage-taker into a fake interview Thursday, then shot him twice in the head. The children and three adults were rescued unhurt.
Luxembourg authorities said they decided on the strategy after the 39-year-old man, armed with a pistol, grenades and a knife, twice contacted Radio Television Luxembourg and gave radio interviews, which were not broadcast until after the drama ended.
''The idea was to simulate an interview,'' said Interior Minister Michel Wolter. ''He wanted to address the whole world.''
Armed police officers dressed in jackets emblazoned with the RTL logo and carrying a television camera approached the day-care center where the hostages had been held since midafternoon Wednesday.
The gunman emerged, carrying a child in one arm and a grenade in the other. The police disguised as cameramen fired twice, felling the suspect.
The gunman was in serious condition in a Luxembourg hospital.
Neither the interior minister nor RTL would confirm reports that the gun was concealed in a fake camera.
''There was no RTL team involved,'' said Vic Reuter, RTL's Luxembourg station manager.
Police were ready to shoot the gunman earlier but, according to Wolter, ''he was very mistrustful. This morning we were ready to do it, but he didn't come far enough out.''
Police divisional commissioner Andree Colas said the gunman seized 46 children on Wednesday along with several teaching staff. Seventeen of the children were freed Wednesday along with two teachers. Thursday morning two more children were freed, and two more came out Thursday afternoon.
But tension rose when the man, a Luxembourger of Tunisian origin, appeared in a window on the top floor of the day-care center and waved his gun and a hand grenade beside a picture of a teddy bear. At one point he also waved a toddler at the window, Wolter said.
Police said the hostage-taker had a history of mental illness. Residents of this town of 2,300 near the German border said he blamed the day-care center for the loss of custody of his two children after he and his wife separated.
He had demanded that he and the hostages be taken to Luxembourg airport Thursday to fly to Libya. A deadline he set to be transported to the airport came and went without incident.
The hostage-taking was an ordeal that shocked this tiny European country, known for its thick forests and rolling hills. It is a stranger to the sort of social tensions and crime that punctuate life elsewhere in Europe.
''We thought we had a quiet little town here,'' said retiree Raphael Dedapper.
Wedged between France, Belgium and Germany, Luxembourg is smaller than Rhode Island, with a population of only 365,000.
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