GENEVA — An Arab gunman hijacked an Air Afrique DC-10 jetliner with 163 people on board today, forcing it to land at Cointrin Airport where he killed a French passenger before crew members and security forces overpowered him, authorities said.
The hijacker was identified as Hussein Ali Mohammed Hariri, a southern Lebanese Shia Muslim. He had demanded to be flown to the Middle East and reportedly has links with Hezbollah, the group blamed for kidnaping Americans and other foreigners in Lebanon.
Vice Chancellor Achille Casanova told reporters that Hariri also demanded that West Germany free Mohammed Ali Hamadi, 23, and his brother, Abbas Ali Hamadi, 28. The United States says Mohammed Ali Hamadi took part in the June, 1985, hijacking of a Trans World Airlines jet in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed.
West Germany has refused a U.S. extradition request for Mohammed Ali Hamadi.
Casanova said there were 64 French nationals aboard the plane and the Swiss government "immediately made a connection with France's current difficulties with Iran." Two Americans were also thought to be aboard.
Pro-Iranian Muslim extremists had threatened to attack French nationals, embassies and other French interests in retaliation for France's decision last week to sever ties with Iran.
Security police troops stormed the aircraft after passengers at the rear of the plane opened the doors and triggered escape chutes. Hospital officials said 31 passengers were injured jumping from the aircraft or sliding down escape chutes that were not fully extended.
After the escape chutes opened, authorities said, crew members had "a split-second chance" to struggle with Hariri, who had threatened to kill passengers unless he was flown to the Middle East, and wrestled him to the floor.
Security forces dragged Hariri head first down the stairs leading from the airplane, which had been on a flight from Rome to Paris when it was hijacked.
An airplane steward was shot in the stomach during the scuffle with Hariri. Hospital officials said the steward was in serious condition after a three-hour operation.
Shot in Back of Neck
Before the hijacking came to an end--more than four hours after it was diverted to Geneva's Cointrin Airport--the hijacker killed French national Xavier Beaulieu, 28, by shooting him in the back of the neck, Swiss authorities said.
A Lebanese Shia Muslim source said Hariri is a member of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, which is believed to be holding 24 foreign hostages in Lebanon. The source also said Hariri is a close friend of Mohammed Ali Hamadi.
In Beirut, a spokesman for the International Red Cross delegation in Lebanon said Hariri was detained in the Ansar prison in southern Lebanon between 1984 and 1985.
Lebanese security sources said Hariri, who is from the village of Kfardounine, 12 miles north of the Israeli border, was transferred in 1985 to a prison inside Israel and released last spring.