German commando who led mission that ended 1977 hijack dies

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German commando who led mission that ended 1977 hijack dies

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FILE - In this Oct. 18, 1977 file photo the first freed hostages step down the gangway after landing at Frankfurt am Main's airport, in West Germany. Ulrich Wegener, the commander of the German paramilitary unit that ended the hijacking of a plane by Palestinian militants in 1977 has died. (AP Photo/Dieter Endlicher)

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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