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Police say airport attack planner may still be in Austria

January 8, 1986

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ Officials said Wednesday that the man suspected of planning last month’s terrorist attack at Vienna’s airport arrived here from Hungary with a Tunisian passport and may still be in the country.

Palestinian terrorists made coordinated attacks on the Vienna and Rome airports. Nineteen people were killed, including five Americans and four of the gunmen.

Police director Robert Danzinger said the passport was in the name of Ali Ben Bezhin Dakhli, 27, and the man entered Austria from Budapest on Dec. 22.

An Interior Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the man and one of two accomplices in custody flew to Budapest from Damascus, Syria.

The two men captured in the attack claim they and a third terrorist, who was killed, also had Tunisian passports. None of the documents has been found, Danzinger said.

Two other people were killed and 39 people were wounded in the attack in the departure lounge of the Israeli airline El Al at Schwechat Airport. Sixteen people, including three terrorists, died in a similar assault at Leonardo Da Vinci Airport in Rome.

Foreign Minister Leopold Gratz said in a statement Wednesday that the government might demand entry visas from ″citizens of certain countries″ for which they have not been required, and also may consider reducing ″the size of diplomatic representations″ because of the attacks.

His statement did not give specifics, but a government official said the visa reference was meant for holders of Tunisian passports and the possible reduction of diplomatic personnel referred to the Libyan Embassy.

Gratz also said in his statement that Austria would not go along with the economic sanctions on Libya ordered Tuesday by President Reagan.

Austrian law enforcement officials said initially that only the three gunmen were involved in the Vienna attack, but announced later that they were seeking a fourth believed to be the planner.

Danzinger would not give details of the search for the fourth man or the source of the information about him.

Update hourly