• Short Summary

    In Cyprus 11 hostages and four crew members were released on Sunday (19 February) when Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft in which they'd been held.

  • Description

    SCU CYPRUS: President Spyros Kyprianou speaking in English.

    SCU: Socialist party leader Dr. Vassos Lyssarides speaking to reporters in English.

    GV EGYPT: Coffin being pulled on horse-drawn gun carriage in Cairo.

    GV: Funeral procession moving along street.

    SV & GV Mourners in procession. (3 SHOTS)

    GV: Mourners. (3 SHOTS)

    KYPRIANOU: "Cyprus has lost one of its greatest friends and supporters in its struggle for freedom. Mr. Sibai was a champion of freedom and justice for all peoples who are struggling for their freedom throughout the world."

    REPORTER: "Do you know what was behind their decision to release some of the hostages including yourself and to keep some of the hostages on the plane?"

    LYSSARIDES: "I tell you, I think they released me because they liked me. They have to release me other wise they wouldn't have leaved."

    REPORTER: "That was one of the conditions?"

    LYSSARIDES: "They understood it very well, anyway, and in fact anyway the decision was taken."

    Initials JS/0100


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: In Cyprus 11 hostages and four crew members were released on Sunday (19 February) when Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft in which they'd been held. Two gunmen who'd taken the hostages after killing Egyptian journalist Youssef Sibai on Saturday surrendered to Cypriot National Guardsmen. The two-day ordeal began when the hostages flew out of Larnaca Airport aboard a Cyprus Airways plane and landed in the African state of Djibouti. They returned to Cyprus only after a number of other countries including Aden and the Libyan Jamahiriyah had said they would not allow the gunmen in. An international row blew up when 100 Egyptian commandos flew into Laranca to release the hostages but became embroiled in a pitched battle with Cypriot Guardsmen.

    At least five Egyptians were thought to have died. Cyprus said the Egyptians had acted unilaterally but in Cairo a government official said Prime Minister Mamdouh Salem had informed the Cypriots that the commandos were on their way. On Saturday Cypriot Socialist Party leader Dr. Vassos Lyssarides, who'd volunteered to be a hostage, was released before the gunmen left. And President Spyros Kyprianou paid tribute to assassination victim Youssef Sibai.

    SYNOPSIS: In Cairo Mr. Sibai, a close friend of President Anwar Sadat, was given a military funeral on Sunday. Sixty-year-old Mr. Sibai had been a government minister, senior army officer, distinguished journalist and novelist.

    He was shot in the chest when he was in Cyprus in his capacity as Secretary-General of the Cairo-based Afro-Asian People's Solidarity Organisation. At the time of his death Mr. Sibai was chairman and editor-in-chief of the semi-official daily newspaper Al-Ahram. He was in addition chairman of the Egyptian Press Syndicate and Secretary-General of the Egyptian Writers' Association.

    Last July Cairo police said they had foiled a plot to kidnap Mr. Sibai by a Moslem extremist group. His killing was widely condemned by Arab groups including the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. One Egyptian newspaper blamed the shooting on the Palestinian Black September movement.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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