Japanese Hostages Safe after Hijacker Surrenders
Thirty-three Japanese hostages, their Greek driver and Greek guide who were seized earlier Saturday on a Greek bus are safe and sound after the hijack ended peacefully, Greece's Minister for Public Order Michalis Chryssohoidis said.
Christos Kentiras, 48, who had taken hostage the 35 people, left the bus at 7:00 pm (1700 GMT), pictures on private Greek television station Alpha showed, and surrendered peacefully shortly afterwards.
He stopped the tour bus on the Corinth to Athens highway early Saturday after shooting dead his 77-year-old mother-in-law and a male friend he suspected of having an affair with his wife.
Kentiras, who was armed with a rifle, had been in an unstable state for some months after his marriage broke up, police said, adding that the killings were linked to family disputes.
Kentiras had threatened by telephone to kill his age captives during the nearly nine-hour long ordeal.
The bus, pursued by some 50 police cars and emergency vehicles, had changed direction a number of times during the day and ended up at the Alpha television station.
On the bus were 22 Japanese women, 10 men and a Japanese guide, most of them elderly, who had arrived in Athens two days earlier for a weeklong visit.
They were accompanied by a Greek guide and a Greek driver.
He had fired on a police motorcyclist who tried to close in on the bus, wounding him in the hand, police said.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori had expressed grave concern over the hijacking and had set up an emergency task force to deal with the matter.
The tourists had been on their way from the Peloponnese to Athens after visiting an archeological site in Epidaurus, but Kentiras forced it to make a U-turn when it reached a police roadblock near Eleusis outside Athens.
Police said Kentiras killed his mother-in-law on the island of Poros before he traveled to Galatas where he shot dead his friend.
The hijack was another blow to Greece's tourist industry following a string of sinking of ferries carrying holidaymakers between the country's numerous islands in September -- ATHENS (AFP)
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