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JORDAN - July 6 - Guards Kill Hijacker.

Authorities say a man who tried to hijack a Syria-bound jet and divert it to Germany was shot to death by Jordanian guards after he set off a grenade that wounded 15 passengers. Captain Jihad Irsheid, head of Jordan's civil aviation authority, says the Royal Jordanian Airlines Airbus A320 aircraft was carrying 84 passengers and 12 crewmembers when it left Amman international airport for the 30-minute flight to the Syrian capital, Damascus. Irsheid says the hijacker tried to enter the cockpit 10 minutes into the flight, armed with a pistol and a grenade. Irsheid says: "When security men on board stopped him, he fired a shot and threw the grenade, which exploded wounding 15 passengers but causing little damage to the aircraft", adding: "The hijacker freaked out after he threw the grenade and one of the security at the front of the plane gave the signal to his other colleague who was coming from behind who shot the man. The plane immediately was turned back". 'PETRA' says 2 of the wounded passengers were in stable condition following surgery at an Amman hospital. The other 13 wounded passengers had minor injuries and were treated and released. The injured included Kuwaitis, Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians. 'PETRA' says King Abdullah II visited the wounded and later inspected the plane. Airport officials say the passengers were mostly from the Mideast but an undetermined number were from the US. Information Minister Taleb Rifai identifies the hijacker as Mahmoud Rizq Deeb of Tartous, Syria. He says Deeb had arrived in Jordan from Syria on July 4. It is not clear exactly why Deeb - who was travelling with his 2 children and brother - wanted to take the plane to Germany.

Rifai says: "It was an individual attempt which had no ... political motives". Rifai says Germany had recently granted the Syrian a visa. He says Deeb had once lived in Germany, where he worked as mechanic. Officials say an investigation into the incident was underway. (In the 1970s and 1980s, Jordanian planes were the target of terrorist attacks by Palestinian guerrillas who were critical of the late King Hussein's moderate policy toward Israel. But in recent years there have been no hijacking attempts. Currently, 28 Jordanians and others are being tried in Amman for planning terrorist attacks against Israeli and American targets in Jordan. In June, the US Embassy issued a warning that it had "information concerning terrorist targeting" its compound in Amman. The embassy cancelled 4th of July Independence Day celebrations. (Royal Jordanian Airlines is state-run, but the government plans to privatise it.)
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7JORD
Date:Jul 8, 2000
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