Algeria: Anatomy of a Hijack

A 54-Hour Hostage Drama Ends in a 17-Minute Firefight Between Commandos and Terrorists

An orange fireball lights up the night sky over Paris. Blown apart by 20 . sticks of dynamite, a 42-ton Airbus A300 carrying 177 people and 15 tons of highly inflammable jet fuel disintegrates and rains burning debris over the capital. Within minutes, parts of the city are in flames -- the devastating conclusion to a suicidal act of terror by four young Algerians.

A chilling scenario -- and one that was averted only because commandos of the French gendarmerie stormed the Air France jetliner last week on the tarmac of Marseilles' Marignane Airport, killing the four hijackers in a brisk...

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