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Warsaw Stunned by Airport Tragedy

June 1, 1972
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“Terrible occurrence” and “incredible thing” were among the expressions heard from Poles and Americans when news reached here of the killings at Lydda Airport by Japanese extremists. “It is shocking and horrible,” US Secretary of State William P. Rogers exclaimed. “It almost seems beyond anyone’s comprehension. I express my deepest regret to the families of the killed and wounded. My very deep sympathy goes to the government of Israel for this terribly sad event.”

Rogers made these comments to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency just before he began discussions with Stefan Olszowski, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Polish People’s Republic, at the Foreign Ministry. He had already taken his place at the diplomatic table when he granted the interview. Polish government officials, however, would not allow a similar interview with Olszowski, explaining the session was to be behind closed doors and could not be delayed.

Rogers arrived here this afternoon with President Nixon on the last stop of their 12-day trip which centered on the Moscow summit conference. The Presidential party which came from Teheran this afternoon returns to Washington tomorrow night.


News of the Lydda Airport tragedy broke after the Polish morning papers here had gone to press but radio reports of the wanton slaughter spread quickly in government and press circles, according to Poles at the international press center set up at the Europejski Hotel for the Nixon visit. One American Embassy official said he was horrified when he heard details from a BBC broadcast.

“What a terrible thing to happen in a public place,” a Polish journalist, Mrs. Anna Broniarek, of the Polish Interpress Agency, said. “I heard many times the question: why are innocent people being murdered?” Mrs. Broniarek said that other Poles at the center thought It peculiar why Japanese would be involved in killing in the Middle East. Some coupled the airport tragedy with the bombings in Teheran early this morning before the President’s departure for Warsaw as an indication of the lengths to which political desperadoes will go.

Polish afternoon newspapers carried no stories on the shootings in Lydda or on the bombings in Teheran. Polish circles believed the government did not want to create apprehension while Nixon was here.

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