A booby-trapped suitcase exploded at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday (25 May), killing two people and injuring nine.
A booby-trapped suitcase exploded at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday (25 May), killing two people and injuring nine. A second suitcase blew up as it was being dragged to a security pit, but caused on casualties. A third case was blown up by Israeli army engineers, who said later that it did not contain explosives.
The blast demolished a room in the arrivals hall of the airport used for checking the baggage of Arabs. A man who had apparently been standing next to the booby-trapped suitcase was blown to pieces.
Later reports indicate that he was on a suicide mission and started his journey in Vienna, Austria. Austrian police said that they had searched his luggage and that checks for Israeli-bound flights were carried out with special thoroughness on Tuesday morning, because there were only 10 passengers on the Austrian Airlines flight to Tel Aviv.
A senior police officer said "All luggage and hand baggage was opened in the presence of the passengers and nothing was found. The passengers were also searched". It seemed "almost incredible" that the same luggage should have exploded on arrival, he added.
The man named in the report from Vienna was identified as carrying a Dutch passport in the name of Hugo Muller. A Vienna travel agency employee who said Muller his ticket described him as "a jeans-clad hippy with long blond hair".
However the Libyan newsagency Arna reported from Tripoli on Tuesday that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) had claimed responsibility for the explosion. The Arna report quoted a PFLP spokesman in Kuwait who said that the bombs were planted in the customs section of the airport by a PFLP guerrilla called Nasser.
It was the bloodiest attack on Israel's main international airport since a Japanese suicide squad struck in 1972, killing 26 and wounding 72 in a machine-gun rampage through the arrivals hall.
Last July the Palestine Commando Movement said guerrillas would make further attempts to blow up Ben Gurion airport until they succeed "to refute the theory of Zionist security".