Cuban Fugitives Try To Hijack Plane

Picture of the arrest warrant showing the three Cuban soldiers who deserted Saturday from military service, two of whom tried to hijack an airplane 03 May, 2007 in Jose Marti airport in Havana. Fugitives Alain Forbus Lameru, left, Yoan Torres Martinez, and Leandro Cerezo Sirut.
Getty Images/Rodrigo Arangua
Fugitive army recruits tried to hijack a plane to the United States and killed a military officer they took hostage in the failed attempt early Thursday, the Interior Ministry said.

Two armed recruits hijacked a public bus at gunpoint and forced the driver to take them to Terminal Two at Jose Marti International Airport and to ram the bus through the fence of the protocol entrance, sources tell CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum in Havana.

The two recruits were arrested after Army Lt. Col. Victor Ibo Acuna Velazquez was killed in the aborted hijack, said a ministry statement.

"Despite being unarmed, he heroically tried to prevent the commission of the terrorist act," the statement said of the officer killed. Others who had been held hostage on the bus were unharmed, it added.

Last Friday, the recruits assaulted the weapons arsenal and made off with two AK47s, sources tell CBS News. They then hid in the hills of Managua before hijacking the bus.

Throughout the day Thursday, there were rampant rumors of a shooting at the airport but the Cuban government and its official media were silent.

There had been a massive manhunt under way for three army recruits sought after fleeing their base. The two arrested were among three army recruits who escaped from their military base on Sunday after killing a fellow soldier and wounding another. The third was captured earlier, the ministry statement said.

The Defense Ministry over the weekend distributed wanted circulars around Havana, describing the fugitive recruits as armed and dangerous and saying they were sought for abandoning their posts. Some circulars were displayed in public places, including post offices.

The men, all from the eastern province of Camaguey, were identified as Leandro Cerezo Sirut and Alain Forbus Lameru, both 19, and Yoan Torres Martinez, 21.

About 150 people who lined up outside the terminal for their outgoing flights or waited for loved ones to arrive from the United States seemed oblivious that anything may have occurred there earlier.

Two departures to Miami and one to New York later in the day were listed as being on time, as were the scheduled arrivals from those cities.