TITLE>Chronology of Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1997

Naval Postgraduate School


From: Patterns of Global Terrorism, 1997.United States Department of State, April 1998.

Chronology of Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1997

2 January
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Russian medical service major and an ethnic Tajik senior medical nurse in an apartment in Dushanbe. There is speculation the killings were domestically motivated or carried out by Islamist opposition fighters.

2-13 January
United States
A series of letter bombs with Alexandria, Egypt, postmarks were discovered at Al-Hayat newspaper bureaus in Washington, DC; New York City; London, United Kingdom; and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Three similar devices, also postmarked in Egypt, were found at a prison facility in Leavenworth, Kansas. Bomb disposal experts defused all the devices, but one detonated at the Al-Hayat office in London, injuring two security guards and causing minor damage.

4 January
A car bomb exploded near a major marketplace in Dushanbe, killing one Russian soldier and wounding three others, and wounding a Tajik driver employed by the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) joint peacekeeping forces. CIS officials believe professionals may have carried out the bombing. Islamist opposition fighters are suspected.

5 January
South Africa
The Boere Aanvals Troepe claimed responsibility for exploding a bomb at a mosque in Rustenburg, injuring a Sudanese citizen and a South African.

18 January
Hutu militants shot and killed three Spanish aid workers from Doctors of the World and wounded one US citizen, who had to have his leg amputated.

19 January
Near Samashki village in Chechnya, assailants kidnapped two Russian journalists who were traveling to the Ingush region's capital, Nazran. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of $500,000. The hostages were released on 18 February. There is reporting that no ransom was paid. A Jordanian militant is suspected of leading the kidnappers.

20 January
Bosnia and Herzegovina
A Bosnian-Croatian businessman died after he tripped a boobytrap explosive attached to the front door of his apartment.

21 January
At the Atrush refugee camp approximately 400 militants took 1,500 Turkish male refugees hostage and fled to nearby Garo mountain after the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) closed the camp. There are approximately 5,000 to 8,000 persons remaining at the camp. UNHCR and Turkish Government officials believe the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) is responsible.

23 January
In Dushanbe, gunmen shot and killed a retired Cossack military commander, his mother, and his fiancee.

2 February
An unidentified gunman entered a church in Ruhengeri and shot and killed a priest as he served communion.

4 February
Suspected Hutu militants killed five team members of the Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) in Cyangugu Prefecture, using firearms, grenades, and machetes. The victims include a Briton, a Cambodian, and three Rwandans.

Near Komsomolabad, a paramilitary group led by Bakhrom Sodirov abducted four UN military observers. The victims included two Swiss, one Austrian, one Ukrainian, and their Tajik interpreter. The kidnappers demanded safe passage for their supporters from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. On 11 February the group released the Austrian hostage who was ill. By 17 February all the hostages were released after the group's demand was met.

5-17 February
In four separate incidents occurring between Dushanbe and Garm, Bakhrom Sodirov and his group kidnapped two International Committee for the Red Cross members, four Russian journalists and their Tajik driver, four UNHCR members, and the Tajik Security Minister, Saidamir Zukhurov. Sodirov demanded safe passage for his brother, Rezvon Sodirov, and his followers from Afghanistan to Tajikistan. The group released the hostages when the Tajikistan and Russian Governments complied with their demand.

7 February
Several Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia(FARC) guerrillas kidnapped two German and two Austrian tourists in Los Katios National Park, demanding a $15 million ransom. On 4 March Colombia soldiers patrolling an area in Choco Department spotted them along with their captors. The rebels killed two of the hostages when the troops discovered their hideout. The military forces engaged in a gun battle with the captors, killing four guerrillas. The military rescued the two remaining hostages.

8 February
Separatists from the Cabinda Liberation Front-Cabindan Armed Forces (FLEC-FAC) kidnapped one Malaysian and one Filipino forest engineer. A FLEC-FAC official charged the two with spying for the Angolan Government and said they would be punished by expulsion or death. FLEC-FAC issued an ultimatum to Western companies to leave the enclave of Cabinda or become targets in the guerrilla struggle for independence.

11 February
Two unidentified Ethiopian gunmen tried to bypass security guards at the Belaneh Hotel in Harer, killing one security officer and wounding one other person. The gunmen then threw grenades into the hotel lounge, wounding three Britons, one German, one Dutch and one French citizen.

12 February
Two oil engineers were kidnapped from oilfields by presumed Colombian guerrillas in Apure.

14 February
Six armed Colombian guerrillas kidnapped a US oil engineer and his Venezuelan pilot in Apure. The kidnappers released the Venezuelan pilot on 22 February. According to authorities, the FARC is responsible for the kidnapping.

15 February
Achuar Indians kidnapped a US geologist, a British technical assistant, and two Ecuadorian scientists in Shimi. The hostages work for an Argentine company, conducting environmental research in an area being explored for oil. The kidnappers released the two Ecuadorians the next day and released the two others on 22 February.

20 February
Suspected National Liberation Army guerrillas kidnapped a Norwegian employee of a Swedish-owned construction company in Urra.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed the Chief of the Iranian Cultural Center and six others.

21 February
Unidentified assailants killed a prominent member of parliament in the lobby of his Baku apartment building.

22 February
In Gali, Abkhazia, a landmine exploded when a Russian armored personnel carrier passed by, killing three Russian peacekeeping soldiers and wounding another. An ambulance responding to the first blast ran over a second landmine, killing three Russian medics. Both blasts caused major damage. A group calling itself the White Legion and other Georgian partisans are suspected. The White Legion denied responsibility.

23 February-12 April
Four gunmen kidnapped an Italian photojournalist traveling between Chernorechye village and Grozny. In late March the kidnappers demanded a ransom of $1 million. Russian and Chechen authorities and the humanitarian agency Intersos helped bring about the hostage's release. Chechen militants are suspected of carrying out the abduction in an attempt to undermine ongoing talks between Moscow officials and the recently elected Chechen government.

23 February
United States
A Palestinian gunman opened fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State building in New York City, killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from the United States, Argentina, Switzerland, and France before turning the gun on himself. A handwritten note carried by the gunman claimed this was a punishment attack against the "enemies of Palestine."

24 February
ELN guerrillas kidnapped a US citizen employed by a Las Vegas gold corporation who was scouting a gold mining operation in Colombia. The ELN demanded a ransom of $2.5 million.

4 March
Fifty Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped six German tourists and their German tour guide in Wadi al-Dabaat, demanding $12 million from the Yemen Government. On 12 March the tribesmen released the seven hostages.

7 March
FARC guerrillas kidnapped a US mining employee and his Colombian colleague who were searching for gold in Colombia. On 16 November the rebels released the two hostages after receiving a $50,000 ransom.

21 March
Suspected members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) detonated an improvised explosive device next to propane/butane gas tanks outside a Turkish-owned fast-food restaurant in Bad Vilbel, injuring one person and causing extensive damage.

22 March
Armed members of the Ijaw community, protesting the redrawing of regional boundaries, occupied Shell buildings, holding 127 Nigerian employees of the Anglo-Dutch-owned Shell Oil Company. The protesters released 18 hostages on 25 March and the remaining 109 on 27 March. Three of the hostages had been injured.

25 March
Suspected members or sympathizers of the Turkish Grey Wolves organization or the PKK set a fire at a home in a predominantly Turkish neighborhood in The Hague, killing a mother and her five children, and causing extensive damage.

27 March
Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped four German tourists who were returning to Sanaa from Marib. A letter was sent to the German Embassy threatening to kill the hostages if the Yemeni Government did not pay a ransom of roughly $3 million. On 6 April 1997 the tribesmen released the hostages. No ransom was paid.

29 March
Five uniformed, heavily armed Colombian Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordinating Board members kidnapped a Venezuelan cattle rancher who is the godparent of Venezuela's president in Zulia municipality.

30 March
Unknown assailants threw four grenades into a political demonstration in Phnom Penh, killing up to 16 persons and wounding more than 100 others. Among the injured were a US citizen from the International Republican Institute, a Chinese journalist from the Xinhua News Agency, and opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who led some 200 supporters of his Khmer National Party in the demonstration against the governing Cambodian People's Party.

1 April
Thirty suspected Colombian ELN guerrillas killed two Venezuelan naval officers in El Ripial, Apure state. The officers were part of a patrol group sailing on a river located along the Venezuelan shore when the guerrillas opened fire on them.

3 April
A Danish nurse who had worked in Ethiopia for the Danish Ethiopian Mission since 1993 was found murdered in the southern region of Bale. She had been missing since her car was stopped by armed men in late March.

8 April
FARC guerrillas bombed a rail line at a mining complex in El Cerrejon, derailing 27 railcars, spilling 2,700 tons of coal and 3,700 gallons of diesel fuel, and damaging 550 yards of rail line. The mine is operated under concession by Intercor, a subsidiary of Exxon Corp.

11-12 April
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Police discovered and defused 23 landmines under a bridge that was part of Pope John Paul II's motorcade route in Sarajevo, several hours before the Pope's arrival.

22 April
Khmer Rouge guerrillas attacked two trucks in the Barkeo district of Ratanakkiri Province, killing three Vietnamese citizens, wounding six others, and destroying the trucks.

27 April
Khmer Rouge guerrillas attacked Vietnamese fishermen and wood cutters in Barkeo district of Ratanakkiri, killing nine persons and wounding 10 others.

28 April
In Grozny, Chechnya, assailants kidnapped the son of the late Georgian President Zviad Gamsakhurdia. The kidnappers threw the hostage out of their vehicle when police pursued them.

5 May
ELN rebels kidnapped a Brazilian construction worker. The ELN released the hostage on 15 October in Santa Marta. The Red Cross helped the construction company negotiate with the kidnappers. Claiming security reasons, the construction company did not report whether it paid any ransom.

16 May
In Urena municipality four armed men kidnapped a Venezuelan politician. The victim was forced into a vehicle and taken to Colombia where he attempted to escape and was shot and killed by his captors. ELN and FARC both operate in the area where the politician was abducted.

13 June
Arsonists set fire to an upholstery shop in Manama, killing four Indian expatriates who were trapped in their home above the shop. Shia extremists are suspected.

17 June
A gunman opened fire on two Russian CIS Collective Peacekeeping Force officers in Dushanbe, killing one and wounding the other.

22 June
Unknown assailants killed a French woman in Bouzeguene and dumped her body in a well. The Armed Islamic Group is suspected.

27 June
In San Pablo, 60 ELN guerrillas kidnapped three employees of a Brazilian company contracted to repair railroad track in Cesar and Magdalena departments. Two workers were released on 1 July unharmed. The rebels still hold a Spanish engineer and are asking a ransom of $9,000 worth of food "for the people" to release the hostage.

1 July
Sri Lanka
Guerrillas from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) captured an Indonesian flag passenger ferry, taking two Indonesian and seven Sri Lankan crewmembers hostage and then torching the ship. The terrorists released the Indonesians, but the fate of the Sri Lankan hostages is unknown.

6 July
Arsonists set fire to a store in Sitra, killing a Bangladeshi and injuring another. Shia extremists are suspected.

7 July
Sri Lanka
LTTE guerrillas hijacked a North Korean food ship, killing one North Korean crewmember and holding 37 others hostage. On 12 July the LTTE released the hostages to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

12 July
A bomb exploded at the Hotel Nacional in Havana, injuring three persons and causing minor damage. Among the injured were one Jamaican man and one Cuban woman. The Hotel Nacional is a five-star hotel located 200 meters from a hotel that was bombed 10 minutes earlier. The Cuban Government stated that "the people responsible for the bombings and also the material used in them came from the United States." In a series of telephone calls to news organizations in Madrid and other foreign capitals, a previously unknown group calling itself the Military Liberation Union claimed responsibility for the recent bombings in Havana. The group claims to be made up of disenchanted Cuban soldiers who intend to spark revolt against Fidel Castro. Their claims are supported by an ex-Cuban air force colonel, who says dissident soldiers are stealing explosives from military arsenals. On 10 September the Ministry of Interior announced the arrest of a Salvadoran citizen who confessed responsibility for the bombing.

19 July
ELN guerrillas kidnapped a dual Canadian-Colombian citizen and a Colombian citizen in El Bagre. The dual citizen may have been hired by a US mining company to negotiate the release of its US employee who is being held captive by the FARC.

22 July
Rebels kidnapped six persons who were flying to a remote area in Antioquia to work on electrical lines and seized their helicopter. A group calling itself the Guevarista Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility, demanding a $500,000 ransom and stating that they mined the jungle site where the six were taken and have loaded the helicopter with explosives. The helicopter engineer is a Nicaraguan citizen. On 30 July, Colombian troops found three of the hostages, unharmed, and recovered the helicopter.

26 July
Unknown assailants kidnapped two Italian tourists and their Yemeni driver near Kohlan. Security forces freed the hostages the next day.

30 July
ELN guerrillas bombed the Cano Limon-Covenas oil pipeline in Norte de Santander. The rebels wrapped sticks of dynamite around the pipes of the pump, causing a major oil spill and suspending pumping operations for more than a week, which resulted in several million dollars in lost revenue.

Two bombs detonated in the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, killing 15 persons, including two suspected suicide bombers, and wounding 168 others. A dual US-Israeli citizen was among the dead, and two US citizens were among the wounded. The Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), claimed responsibility for the attack.

6 August
Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped an Italian tourist they randomly picked out among six others traveling between Rada and Aman. The tribesmen released the tourist on 10 August. They reportedly kidnapped him to pressure the government to recover a car confiscated in 1994.

7 August
In Yopal municipality, unidentified guerrillas attacked the installations of a Colombian firm that works for British Petroleum, harassing workers and setting machinery on fire. Damage is estimated at $2 million.

13 August
Tribesmen kidnapped six Italian tourists traveling to Aden from Mukallah. They released the hostages on 15 August.

14 August
Tribesmen kidnapped four Italian tourists in Khami. They released the hostages the next day.

15 August
Sixty Sendero Luminoso(SL) guerrillas kidnapped 30 oil workers in Junin Department. The workers are employed by a firm that is contracted by a French transnational oil company. On 17 August the SL rebels released the oil workers unharmed in exchange for a ransom of food, medicines, clothing, and batteries.

Fifteen Colombian guerrillas kidnapped a Venezuelan army lieutenant and an unidentified resident in Chorrosquero. Three other army officers escaped capture by jumping into a nearby river. Authorities believe the two victims were immediately taken to Colombian territory. Both the ELN and FARC operate near the area.

4 September
A bomb exploded at the Copacabana hotel, killing an Italian tourist and causing minor damage. The tourist was killed by flying shards of glass from the explosion. Minutes earlier two other hotels frequented by foreign tourists were also bombed. On 10 September the Interior Ministry announced the arrest of a Salvadoran citizen, who confessed to these three bombings and two others on 12 July.

Three suicide bombers detonated bombs in the Ben Yehuda shopping mall in Jerusalem, killing eight persons, including the bombers, and wounding nearly 200 others. A dual US-Israeli citizen was among the dead, and seven US citizens were wounded. The Izz-el-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), claimed responsibility for the attack.

9 September
Suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) kidnapped a German business executive in Zamboanga City. The ASG released the hostage on 26 December.

Sri Lanka
Guerrillas from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) attacked a merchant ship with rocket-propelled grenades, causing major damage to the ship. Up to 20 persons were reported killed, wounded, or missing, including five Chinese crewmen. The ship was owned by the China Ocean Shipping Company, registered in Panama, and chartered by the US company ACI Chemicals. The LTTE claimed responsibility.

16 September
Three men carrying AK-47s kidnapped one Egyptian and one Jordanian UNOMIG military observer and their local interpreter near the Georgian side of the Injuri River. The kidnappers released the Egyptian, demanding $50,000 for the release of the Jordanian. The kidnappers released the second observer after the United Nations paid them $7,000.

18 September
Gunmen attacked a tourist bus in front of the Egyptian National Antiquities Museum in Tahrir Square, Cairo, killing nine German tourists and their Egyptian busdriver, and wounding eight others.

22 September
Unknown assailants shot and wounded two Israeli security personnel as they sat in a parked vehicle outside an apartment building housing an Israeli Embassy family in Amman. The Jordanian Islamic Resistance claimed responsibility for the attack. The group demanded the release of a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolchildren and threatened further attacks if Israeli diplomatic personnel did not leave within a month.

1 October
Three bombs exploded on a passenger train as it approached Ghaziabad, in Uttar Pradesh, killing two persons and injuring 38 others, including one Japanese and four Australian passengers.

13 October
Nine PKK terrorists kidnapped two Bulgarian and one Turkish engineers from a coal mine. The Turkish engineer was found dead, but the Bulgarians were released unharmed on 16 October.

15 October
Sri Lanka
LTTE guerrillas detonated a massive truck bomb in the parking lot of a major hotel next to the new World Trade Center in Colombo, killing 18 persons and injuring at least 110 others. Among the injured were seven US citizens and 33 other foreign nationals. The explosion caused extensive damage to several international hotels and the World Trade Center.

Bani Dabian tribesmen kidnapped a British businessman and two Yemenis near Sumayr. The tribesmen demanded financial aid for their tribe and completion of electricity and water projects in the region. They released the hostages on 30 October.

Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped four French tourists in Saada. The tribesmen demanded the return of a car they claimed the government confiscated because of lack of proper documentation. Authorities freed the hostages the next day.

22 October
Al-Hadda tribesmen kidnapped two Russian doctors and their wives in the Zamar region to pressure the government into handing down death sentences to four residents who raped a boy from their tribe. The tribesmen released the four hostages on 10 November.

23 October
ELN rebels kidnapped two foreign members of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a Colombian human rights official at a roadblock. One observer is Chilean, and the other is Guatemalan. The ELN claimed that the kidnapping was intended "to show the international community that the elections in Colombia are a farce." In a letter to the Antioquia governor, the ELN stated that it would release the hostages after the elections, but that a nationwide "armed strike" would aim to prevent the elections from being held. On 28 October the ELN rebels issued the following conditions for the hostages' release: lift the army checkpoints on the highway between Bogota and Medellin, clear La Pinuela base, clear Granada municipality, and halt army operations for eight consecutive days from the time of the release. On 1 November masked ELN guerrillas dressed in Colombian national police uniforms turned the hostages over to representatives of the Red Cross, Catholic Church, national and local peace commission members, and other witnesses in front of a parish church in Santa Ana. The men had been held elsewhere and were transferred by helicopter to the village.

27 October
Suspected Moro Islamic Front (MILF) guerrillas kidnapped an Irish Roman Catholic priest in Marawi, demanding $192,000 in ransom and the release of livelihood funds promised under the amnesty program. On 4 November the captors freed the priest.

29 October
Gunmen opened fire on the Qatari Ambassador to Yemen's car in Sanaa. The ambassador escaped the attack. Militants opposed to the mid-November Middle East and North Africa economic conference in Qatar may be responsible.

30 October
Al-Sha'if tribesmen kidnapped a US businessman near Sanaa. The tribesmen sought the release of two fellow tribesmen who were arrested on smuggling charges and several public works projects they claim the government promised them. They released the hostage on 27 November.

31 October
Unknown assailants hurled two handgrenades into a backpackers' hostel in Kampala, Uganda, injuring one South African, one Briton, and one unidentified foreign tourist.

11 November
Unknown assailants kidnapped a German industrialist in Cundinamarca, Colombia. No group claimed responsibility.

12 November
FARC rebels kidnapped one Mexican and one Colombian engineer from a hydroelectric plant. The rebels also stole dynamite and two vehicles they used to flee the scene.

One day, after the conviction of Mir Aimal Kansi, two unidentified gunmen shot to death four US auditors from Union Texas Petroleum and their Pakistani driver after they drove away from the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi. The Islami Inqilabi Council, or Islamic Revolutionary Council, claimed responsibility in a call to the US Consulate in Karachi. The Aimal Secret Committee, or Aimal Khufia Action Committee, also claimed responsibility in a letter to Pakistani newspapers.

17 November
Al-Gama'at al-Islamiyya (IG) gunmen shot and killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians and wounded 26 others at the Hatshepsut Temple in the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. Thirty-four Swiss, eight Japanese, five Germans, four Britons, one French, one Colombian, a dual-national Bulgarian/Briton, and four unidentified persons were among the dead. Twelve Swiss, two Japanese, two Germans, one French, and nine Egyptians were among the wounded. The IG militants left a leaflet at the scene calling for the release of Umar Abd al-Rahman, the IG spiritual leader imprisoned in the United States.

18 November
Two suspected former members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) kidnapped a Belgian Roman Catholic priest in Ozamis as he returned home from a farewell party for the Irish priest who had been kidnapped 10 days earlier. The kidnappers released the Belgian priest on 19 November.

A French couple was kidnapped by the brother and friends of jailed militant Bahrom Sodirov in hopes of gaining his release. On 29 November the kidnappers released the male hostage, but the woman was shot and later died when Tajik authorities stormed the building. Five terrorists died in the battle.

20 November
Unknown gunmen shot and killed a Hungarian Yeshiva student and wounded an Israeli student in the Old City of Jerusalem.

21 November
In Elayo Village in the self-proclaimed republic of Somaliland, approximately 20 unidentified gunmen kidnapped five United Nations and European aid workers. The hostages included one Briton, one Canadian, two Kenyans, and one Indian and were released on 24 November.

22 November
Unidentified hooded attackers killed a German-born man in his home in Ain el Hajar, Saida Province. The victim had lived in Algeria since 1952, had converted to Islam, and was married to an Algerian woman.

25-26 November
Yemeni tribesmen kidnapped a US citizen, two Italians, and two unspecified Westerners near Aden to protest the eviction of a tribe member from his home. The kidnappers released the five hostages on 27 November without incident.

10 December
Authorities defused a powerful time bomb found inside a gas cylinder at a Turkish facility adjoining the international ATAS oil refinery in Mersin. The ATAS refinery is a joint venture of Royal Dutch/Shell group, Mobil Oil, British Petroleum (BP), and Turkey's Marmara Petrol.

13 December
Employees and villagers kidnapped one US citizen, one Australian, and two British oil workers, and at least nine Nigerian staff members of Western Geophysical, a US-owned oil exploration company off the coast of Nigeria. The victims were released in stages on 17 and 18 December.

17 December
Fifteen armed men kidnapped five Polish nationals working for the Catholic charity Caritas, Poland.

18 December
ELN rebels kidnapped four Colombian Coca-Cola employees at a roadblock in Norte de Santander. The rebels seek individual ransoms and a payoff from Coca-Cola to prevent further kidnappings and have approached other Coca-Cola officials demanding a protection payoff.

23 December
Unidentified assailants fired shots at the teachers' residential compound of the Karachi American School, wounding one Frontier Constabulary guard. The compound is home to nine US citizen and six Canadian teachers and is one block from the school compound in a neighborhood with seven other consulate residences. The guard post has been in place since the 12 November murders of four Union Texas Petroleum employees.


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