A West German airliner which was hijacked on a flight from Palma in Mallorca to Frankfurt, Germany, landed at Larnaca in southeastern Cyprus on Thursday (13 October).
A West German airliner which was hijacked on a flight from Palma in Mallorca to Frankfurt, Germany, landed at Larnaca in southeastern Cyprus on Thursday (13 October). The hijackers commandeered the airliner and 90 passengers and crew over the Mediterranean and threatened to blow it up unless they were given fuel to fly to the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
SYNOPSIS: Earlier, the plane, a twin-jet Boeing 737 belonging to Lufthansa, made a refuelling stop at Rome, Italy, where it stayed for two hours. Police and security guards surrounded the plane, which stood about one kilometre from the control tower.
The plane was hijacked soon after taking off from Palma, the Spanish resort popular with German holidaymakers. The airport was closed to traffic and put on full alert.
There was some confusion over whether the hijack was carried out by one or more persons. One man identified himself as "Walter Mohammed" as he demanded the plane be refuelled.
As the plane prepared to leave Rome airport, there was speculation over the hijackers' demands. In Beirut, a previously unknown guerilla group claimed responsibility.
It said the hijacking was an extension of the kidnapping of West German industrialist Hans-Martin Schleyer.
At Larnaca airport, the plane taxied to an isolated area about a mile from the control tower where West German charge d'affaires Paul Kurbjuhn was standing along with senior Cypriot officials. Airport sources said they believed there were two hijackers, possibly acting with two women accomplices. Cypriot authorities refused a request from hijackers for the airliner to be refuelled. One of the men, the sources added, began shouting radioed threats that the plane would be blown up. The hijackers refused a request for six women and children to be allowed to leave the plane.