Jordanian Airliner Hit in Rocket Attack, No Injuries
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A rocket ripped a hole in the fuselage of a Jordanian jetliner preparing for takeoff Thursday, but it did not explode or cause injuries, police said.
Airport police chief George Skouras told reporters the rocket gouged a 4- inch-wide hole in the roof of the Royal Jordanian Airlines Boeing 727.
″It was fired from inside the airport perimeter fence from a distance of 150 yards, just as the plane was about to take off,″ Skouras said.
The plane was en route to Amman, the Jordanian capital, with 62 passengers and 13 crew members aboard, a spokesman for the airline said. It returned to the terminal.
The spokesman, who requested anonymity, said two construction workers saw a tall, dark-skinned man fire the rocket and run away to a waiting car. They said he was alone.
″We’re looking for a dark man aged around 30, thin and with long hair,″ Skouras said.
It was the second attack on a Jordanian Airlines target in Athens in recent weeks. On March 21, someone tossed a hand grenade into the airline’s downtown office, and the explosion wounded three employees.
Police sources said ballistics experts who examined the rocket-launcher left behind by the attacker said it was Polish-made.They said he had slipped inside the airport perimeter fence from an adjoining golf course.
″He fired just as the plane was revving up for take-off. The plane would have been airborne if the rocket hadn’t been spotted,″ Skouras said.
He said a pilot landing an Olympic Airways plane saw the incident and radioed the control tower to stop the Jordanian jet from taking off.
″The passengers weren’t in danger. There would just have been an unexplained drop in cabin pressure and the pilot would have returned to Athens,″ Antonis Melidianakis, an engineer with Olympic Airways, the Greek national carrier, told reporters.
No one claimed responsbility for the attack, which came a day after a man fired an anti-tank rocket that just missed the Jordanian Embassy in Rome, damaging an adjacent apartment but causing no injuries.
The Black September organization claimed responsibility for the blast at the Jordanian airline office in Athens, along with simultaneous attacks on the airline’s offices in Rome and Nicosia, Cyprus, on March 21.
Last Dec. 4, a Palestinian gunman shot at and missed a senior Jordanian diplomat driving through an Athens suburb. The gunman was arrested two days later at Greece’s border with Yugoslavia aboard a train headed for Belgrade. His trial has not yet begun.