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1978 Cyprus Hostage Crisis

On February 18 Palestinian terrorists killed a prominent Egyptian editor in a Nicosia hotel, seized 15 hostages, and made their way to Larnaca airport, where they took over a Cyprus Airways plane.

Gunmen herd their hostages onto a bus headed for the airport.
loading hostages onto a bus

The terrorists were able to force the plane to take off, but were forced to return to Cyprus because other nations refused to allow the plane to land. As Cypriot officials negotiated with the terrorists, Egyptian commandos arrived and stormed the plane. Cypriot troops subsequently opened fire on the Egyptians, killing 15 of them. Despite the chaos, all of the terrorists were captured and the hostages were freed, with no reported injuries in either group.

Dead Egyptian commandos lie on the ground at Larnaca airport after a shoot-out with Cypriot police and troops.
dead Egyptian commandos

Egypt maintained that the Cyprus government had been informed of its intentions, but President Spyros Kyprianou denied this and protested against the violation of Cyprus' sovereignty. Diplomatic relations with Egypt were broken off on February 22.

The Palestinians were sentenced to death in Nicosia on April 4, but President Kyprianou commuted their sentences to life imprisonment.

In the Year 1978

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Asia >> Cyprus

This page was last updated on December 24, 2017.