Violent OPEC siege unfolds

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 December, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 24 December, 2000, 12:00am

Vienna (December 21): Five gunmen stormed the headquarters of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries today in a hail of machine-gun bullets and took more than 30 hostages, including some senior Ministers.

Police said the guerilla group were demanding a bus to take them and their hostages to the airport and a plane to fly them out of the country.

Two Austrian detectives and another man were shot.

Algiers (December 23): The tense saga of the OPEC hostages, during which some of the oil world's most influential men were held by guerillas for 43 hours, ended here today when the last captives were released and the gunmen laid down their arms.

At one stage during the night, it was reported that the guerillas with their remaining captives - including the Saudi Arabian Oil Minister - planned to fly on to Baghdad from Tripoli in Libya, where they had released some of their hostages.

Then came news that the Austrian jet carrying them had returned to Algiers - where it first landed yesterday following a flight from Austria.