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Iraqi Hijackers Free Hostages in Britain, Then Surrender

August 28, 1996| From Associated Press

LONDON — Armed Iraqi hijackers surrendered Tuesday after freeing all passengers and crew members aboard a Sudanese airliner, ending a 16-hour drama that began on a flight from Sudan to Jordan. All the hostages were unharmed.

Seven Iraqis, some carrying guns, were arrested shortly after noon at London's Stansted Airport. Essex County police spokeswoman Heather Watts said late Tuesday that no further arrests were anticipated.

The hijacking of Sudan Airways Flight 150, with 199 people on board, was "successfully concluded," said John Burrow, the county police chief. He said three passengers were taken to hospitals for treatment of illnesses unrelated to the hijacking. There were 186 passengers, including the hijackers, and 13 crew members on the airliner.

Burrow said the Iraqis indicated they will seek political asylum.

The hijackers commandeered the flight Monday night about 25 minutes after it left Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, heading for Amman, Jordan.

The hijacking ended after police brought an Iraqi exile to the control tower. Saddiq Saddah did not speak to the hijackers, but police assured them he was there and would watch them leave the aircraft. "They said, 'That's good enough for us, we'll come off,' " Burrow said.

Majid Yassiri, a London-based Iraqi opposition leader, was quoted by the BBC Arabic service as saying that the Iraqis are military experts who had been in Sudan on a government assignment but were too frightened by President Saddam Hussein's latest purges to return home.

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