Man Demanding Mandela's Release Shoots Self at South African Airline Office With AM-South Africa, Bjt

PARIS (AP) _ A man demanding that South Africa free black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela shot himself in the head Thursday at the South African Airways office, authorities said.

The man, identified as Manuel Leloup, was reported in critical condition after firing a bullet from a .22-caliber revolver into his temple.

Leloup, identified only as a Frenchman about 20 years old, entered the airline's Paris offices at about 2:30 p.m., pulled out the revolver, and said he was very interested in South Africa's political problems and demanded to speak to someone at the South African Embassy, said deputy prosecutor Marie Hilda Gouineau.

She said Leloup spoke to three members of the airline staff in an ''apparently coherent manner without threatening them'' and was put in telephone contact with unidentified high-ranking embassy officials for about 10 minutes.

''After hanging up, he said that for him it was all over and fired a bullet to his temple,'' Ms. Gouineau said.

An embassy spokesman said Leloup had demanded freedom for Mandela, who is serving a life sentence in South Africa on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.