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Survivor Says Hijackers Tossed Hand Grenade at Passengers, Then Opened Fire

September 5, 1986

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) _ David Jodice was still white and shaking as he described how gunmen who seized a Pan Am jumbo jet at the Karachi airport Friday hurled a grenade at a group of terrified passengers.

″They (the hijackers) were shouting at us in pitch darkness and then we totally panicked when they threw a hand grenade at the passengers,″ Jodice, of Vienna, Va., told The Associated Press in an interview.

He said the grenade exploded with a ″huge blast,″ and screaming passengers, including dozens of women and children, struggled to hide or get out of the plane as the killers opened fire with automatic weapons.

Some managed to open doors and escaped, Jodice said.

″I have seen a lot of blood. I cannot guess how many people were killed or wounded. It was confusion all over filled with panic and a state of terror,″ he added.

Doctors at Karachi hospitals said at least 15 passengers were killed and more than 100 were wounded in the attack. An American passenger had been killed earlier in the day shortly after the hijackers took over the Boeing 747.

Two of the four gunmen who were wearing the blue uniforms of the airport security force also were killed and the two others were captured when army commandos stormed the jetliner, officials reported. They said three commandos were wounded.

Jodice said the gunmen were very hostile when they seized the plane early Friday.

They forced the passengers to sit crouched over with their heads on their knees and their arms under their legs for four hours, he said.

″Then they got tired themselves and they relaxed. At this point they allowed us to relax,″ he said.

Flight attendants were allowed to serve the passengers with cold drinks and sandwiches after they were allowed to sit up, according to Jodice.

He said the hijackers changed from being ″very harsh″ to being ″very nice″ as the ordeal continued.

Soon after the men seized the plane one went around with a bag collecting all of the passengers’ passports, the Virginian said, but there was no attempt to divide up the passengers by nationality or in any other way.

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