The final death toll in the dramatic storming of a hijacked airliner by troops in Zamboanga in the Philippines on Sunday (23 May) came to thirteen dead and 22 injured.
The final death toll in the dramatic storming of a hijacked airliner by troops in Zamboanga in the Philippines on Sunday (23 May) came to thirteen dead and 22 injured. Among the dead were three of the six hijackers and three women.
The drama began on Friday (21 May) when the hijackers, Muslim students supporting a separatist movement, boarded a domestic flight from the capital, Manila, for the southern Philippines city of Zamboanga. The hijackers, armed with guns and grenades, took over in mid-flight and held the other 99 passengers and six crew hostage in range jet aircraft. They said they would fly to the Middle East and release the passengers and crew there.
But after the Philippine Airlines BAC 1-11 jet landed at Zamboanga it was surrounded by troops and armoured military vehicles and refused permission to leave.
After two days of negotiations and exchanges of some hostages for food, the hijackers and troops began exchanging gunfire. There were several explosions from hand and tear gas grenades, and the aircraft was completely gutted after fire broke out on board. Troops stormed the aircraft while passengers desperately tried to escape both raging fire inside and the hail of bullets.
The three hijackers who escaped death were arrested on the airport tarmac after struggling with troops.