Ukrainian law enforcement officers are seen near a site where a man armed with a grenade holds a policeman hostage in Poltava, Ukraine July 23, 2020. Image Credit: Reuters

Kyiv, Ukraine: A criminal suspect brandishing a hand grenade has abducted a senior police officer in central Ukraine and fled, officials said Thursday.

When police tried to detain the man accused of stealing a car outside a court building in Poltava, he threatened them with the grenade and took one of the officers hostage. He then swapped the officer for the chief of regional criminal police and drove away in a car provided by police on his demand.

An operation to detain the man is under way, officials said.

The incident in Poltava comes two days after another armed man in Ukraine seized 13 hostages on a bus in the western city of Lutsk and held them for more than 12 hours before surrendering to police. All hostages were freed unharmed.

The assailant agreed to release the hostages following a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who agreed to post a video urging all Ukrainians to watch ``Earthlings,'' a 2005 American documentary exposing humanity's cruel exploitation of animals.