Man arrested outside Swiss parliament after suspicious activity

Swiss police have found traces of explosives on a man in an incident that arrested him outside the parliament building and shut down the capital for several hours.

The man, whose name has not been released, was stopped by police in the capital Bern in the afternoon because of his suspicious appearance and behavior.

A 27-year-old man from canton Valais wore a bulletproof vest and gun holster. Police declined to comment on possible motives.

A police car is parked in front of the Swiss parliament during a large Bern police operation. Bern police have evacuated several buildings and blocked off a wide range of streets in and around the Federal Square. April 14, 2023. (Manuel Lopez/Keystone via AP)

A rapid examination found traces of explosives in the man, but no details were given as to where they were found or what type of explosives were found.

A car associated with the man was parked near Federation Square (Reichstag Square) and was being investigated using robots and drones for several hours.

“Based on the knowledge already available at the time, it could not be ruled out that there was explosive material inside the Bundesplatz car and that the car posed a certain hazard,” Bern police said.

“As a result, extensive security measures were immediately put in place,” they added.

Federation Square and the surrounding streets were cordoned off, and nearby buildings, including the Houses of Parliament, were evacuated.

An explosives expert walks in front of the Swiss parliament during a major Bern police operation. On February 25, in Bern, Switzerland, several buildings were evacuated and the Federal Square and surrounding streets were largely blocked. April 14, 2023. (Manuel Lopez/Keystone via AP)
swiss parliament
A police robot stands next to a suspicious car in front of the Swiss parliament during a major Bern police operation. February 14, 2023 (Manuel Lopez/Keystone via AP)

Bern police said the car was finally determined to be safe. The state of emergency was lifted around 7:00 p.m., about five hours after reporting to the scene.

The man is currently in custody and a medical investigation of his physical and mental condition is underway.

A criminal investigation was launched by the Swiss Attorney General’s Office, together with the Bern and Valais police and the Swiss Federal Police.

Extremist violence is rare in Switzerland, but the federal police regularly warn of the threat.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.