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Armenian Guerrilla Leader Slain in Ambush Outside Athens Home

April 29, 1988|From Reuters

ATHENS — Gunmen killed an Armenian guerrilla leader, wanted in France for a bloody airport bombing, in an Athens street early Thursday morning.

Two masked gunmen with sawed-off shotguns pumped four rounds into Hagop Hagopian, 41, as he left his home in a fashionable seaside suburb, police said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting.

Hagopian, also known as Agop Agopian, was the founder of the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, which has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against Turkish targets in recent years.

He was wanted in France for planning a bomb attack at the Turkish airline counter at Orly Airport outside Paris in July, 1983, in which eight people were killed and 55 wounded.

In Paris, French police sources said Hagopian's real name was Bedros Havanassian but that he used numerous identities. He was born in Iraq of Armenian and Arab parentage.

The Armenian liberation group, founded in 1975, seeks recognition for its charges that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred in an official policy of genocide in eastern Turkey during World War I. Turkey vigorously rejects the account.

Armenian and police sources said Hagopian was associated with international drug trafficking and worked as a mercenary with extremist Middle East groups. He was also involved in several internecine feuds among Armenian militants. Any one of these could have carried out the killing, sources said.

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