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27 July, 2000
A special coast guard unit on Wednesday freed five Swiss nationals and the Greek skipper of a small yacht who were held hostage by an armed Czech national.
The coast guard unit boarded the Erato, shortly after 18:30 p.m. The gunman, identified as Frantizec Vezel, 38, was killed in the fray, while a coastguard officer was injured and hospitalized immediately.
All six hostages, a Swiss family with their three children and the captain were unharmed.
The incident took place off the seaside town of Tolo, near Nafplio in the Peloponnese, when the armed abductor boarded the yacht at around 6:00 a.m. He had threatened to shoot the family and the captain unless he was taken to Casablanca, Morocco.
The Swiss family had hired the small sailboat for a tour of the sea region off Nafplio.
Officials said earlier that the hijacker appeared unstable. Merchant Marine Ministry officials said that a coastguard sniper shot the gunman before divers stormed the vessel.
Addressing reporters shortly after the rescue operation, Merchant Marine Minister Christos Papoutsis congratulated the coast guard unit.
Greece is not a free-for-all country. Democracy prevails here and we are a country which guarantees safety to foreign visitors, Papoutsis said.
Source: Athens News Agency