German commando who led mission that ended 1977 hijack dies

FILE - In this Oct. 20, 1977 file photo the Commander of West German anti terror squad, the GSG 9, of the border police, Ulrich Wegner, left, is awarded with the Federal Cross of Merit at the Chancellory in Bonn, West Germany, October 20, 1977 by Hans-Juergen Wischnewski, Minister of State in the Chancellory. The commander of the German paramilitary unit that ended the hijacking of a plane by Palestinian militants in 1977 in Mogadishu has died. (AP Photo)

The commander of a German paramilitary unit that ended the hijacking of a plane by Palestinian militants in 1977 has died

BERLIN — The commander of a German paramilitary unit that ended the 1977 hijacking of a plane by Palestinian militants has died.

Ulrich Wegener was the first commander of the GSG-9 unit, created in response to German security services' failure to prevent the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

It gained international renowned with the storming of the Lufthansa jet 'Landshut' in Mogadishu, Somalia, without any loss of life among the 86 hostages or commandos.

The GSG-9 was modeled on military units like Britain's SAS, but remains part of the civilian federal police force.

The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that Wegener died on Dec. 28. He was 88.

Germany's interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere, praised Wegener as "an outstanding policeman who did enormous amounts for Germany's security."

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