BD on alert for Japanese Red Army fugitives

January 30, 2009

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DHAKA, Jan 29: Police in Bangladesh are on alert after Interpol warned that seven members of the banned Japanese Red Army militant group could be hiding in the South Asian nation, police said on Thursday.

A police official in the capital said the alert concerned seven members of the group, confirming a report by the state-run BSS news agency that quoted a provincial police officer.

“So far we haven’t arrested anyone linked to the group,” said the Dhaka police official.

A spokesman with the Japanese embassy in Dhaka and officials in Tokyo refused to comment.

The Red Army is now considered defunct, but some of its members are still on the run and wanted in connection with global militant activities in the 1970s.

The Japanese Red Army first made the world stage in May 1972 when three members dressed in business suits sprayed gunfire at Tel Aviv airport after stepping off an Air France flight.

Twenty-six people were killed in the attack, most of them Puerto Rican pilgrims. Two of the Japanese assailants also died.

In Sept 1977, the Japanese Red Army hijacked a Japan Airlines flight over India and landed it in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. They forced the Japanese government to free six imprisoned members of the group.

According to the BSS report, one of the militants named in the alert is Kozo Okamoto, wanted in connection with the Tel Aviv airport attack and last known to be living in Lebanon.—AFP