Fugitive Cuban soldiers in failed skyjacking

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Two Cuban military deserters made a failed attempt to skyjack a Spanish Hola Airlines Boeing 737, leased by Cubana Airlines and headed for Venezuela. An unarmed military officer was killed in the process.

The two soldiers, Leandro Cerezo Sirut and Alain Forbus Lameru, both 19 years old, took over a local bus and then drove it to the airport and onto the tarmac in an attempt to hijack a plane. Once on the plane, they attempted to take the officer hostage and when they tried to do so, the officer fought back and foiled the hijacking. The soldiers were attempting to flee Cuba and head for the United States.

A statement by Cuba's Interior Ministry praised the officer's action: "Despite being unarmed, he heroically tried to prevent the commission of the terrorist act. Effective and coordinated action allowed security forces to frustrate the kidnappers' plans and save the lives of the other hostages," and also blamed the U.S. for the hijacking attempt.

"The responsibility for these new crimes lies with the highest-ranking authorities of the United States, adding to the long list of terrorist acts that Cuba has been the victim of for nearly half a century," added the statement.

Both of the soldiers, along with a third soldier, Yoan Torres Martinez, 21, were arrested. All three are believed to have escaped from the military base, causing a shootout which killed one soldier and injured at least one other, in which they were stationed.

Several passengers were on the bus, but no one was hurt. There were no crew or additional passengers on the plane at the time it was boarded.