ATHENS (Jul. 19)
A Palestinian terrorist held 17 people hostages here today after having tried to blow up the offices of the Israeli airline, El Al in central Athens. After four hours of negotiations, the man who identified himself as a member of the “anti-Zionist group from occupied Palestine,” freed the 17 people and left for the airport accompanied by the Egyptian and Lebanese ambassadors. He was promised safe conduct out of Greece by Greek authorities who apparently wanted to avoid bloodshed. The man’s identity was not immediately known.
The incident began this morning when three men, believed to be Arab terrorists, tried to break into the El Al offices. Company security guards sounded an alarm and chased the men. Two of them lost themselves in the downtown crowds. The third entered the lobby of the Amalia Hotel near the El Al office and ordered 17 people present Including two policemen, to raise their hands.
Armed with a submachine gun, two pistols and-a-number of hand grenades, he threatened to “kill everybody present” and then commit suicide unless he was permitted to leave for an Arab country. The hostages Included an elderly American and three children. It is not known if any were Jews.
The terrorist demanded the personal protection and “physical presence” of Greek Vice-President Constantin Patakos to assure his safe conduct. During the four hours of negotiations, the deputy chief of the Athens municipal police was wounded by his own gun which went off accidentally, according to eye-witnesses. At 4 p.m. Iocal time, the terrorist agreed to free the hostages and left for the airport with the Egyptian and Lebanese envoys.