The hijack drama involving a Japanese Airlines DC-8 and stretching from Asia to North Africa ended in Algiers on Monday (3 October) when the five Japanese guerrillas freed the last of their 151 hostages.
CU: freed hostage siting and writing
CU: freed hostages stepping into coach.
SV PAN TO: plane standing at Algiers airport.
SV: officials walking through airport.
SV: hostages stepping off plane at Algiers and being greeted by Japanese ambassador Hiromichi Miyazaki (3 shots)
SV: hostages having drinks as ambassador speaks (2 shots)
The last time Algeria allowed a hijacked airliner to land was in August, 1972. It was an American Delta Airlines DC-8, seized by a group of black Americans on a flight from Detroit, USA, to Miami with 94 passengers and eight crew. The passengers were ransomed for one million dollars. The ransom paid to the Japanese hijacker was the highest ever. The previous record ransom for plane hostage was five million dollars paid by the West German government to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1972 after they took over a Lufthansa Boeing.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The hijack drama involving a Japanese Airlines DC-8 and stretching from Asia to North Africa ended in Algiers on Monday (3 October) when the five Japanese guerrillas freed the last of their 151 hostages. They were 10 Japanese, one Indonesian and one American. They as well as seven crew members appeared to be in good health after their ordeal which began last Wednesday (28 September) when the plane was hijacked to Dacca in Bangladesh after it left India for Thailand. Most of the hostages were freed in Dacca in exchange for a six million dollar ransom and six guerrillas flown from Japanese jails.
SYNOPSIS: The DC-8 had flown into Algiers from Damascus, the Syrian capital, where 10 hostages were freed in exchange for fuel. During the 23-hour flight from Dacca it made a refuelling stop at Kuwait, where seven passengers were set free. Kuwait authorities had ordered its airport runways to be blocked to stop the hijackers landing. But the plane was almost out of fuel and was eventually allowed to land.
At Dar El Beida airport in Algiers, the plane stayed away from the passengers terminal for about two hours after landing. It then moved slowly towards the VIP area which was cordoned off by security forces. Foreign journalists were ordered out of the area. When the hostages stepped out of the plane they were welcomed, among others, by Japanese ambassador to Algeria, Mr Hiromichi Miyazaki. Meanwhile, the Japanese Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Tokyo, saying the Algerian government had agreed on humanitarian grounds to allow the plane to land. The Ministry said Japan would not ask for the extradition of the five hijacker - members of the Japanese Red Army - or the return of the ransom "in view of Algeria's cooperation." The five guerrillas and six prisoners released from Japanese jails also left the plane but it was not immediately clear what was going to happen to them.
Ambassador Miyazaki said that life was precious, and the important thing was that they were all alive. The hostages toasted their freedom with a welcome drink.
In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suano Sonoda said Japan would now strengthen its cooperation with other countries to prevent future hijackings. He expressed his country's deep gratitude to Bangladesh for its efforts to resolve the hijack, and to the Governments of Algeria, Kuwait and Syria for the parts they played.