Three Homemade Rockets Fired at Tokyo Airport
By Kozo Mizoguchi
Tuesday, February 3, 1998
TOKYO Police tightened security around Tokyo's international airport today, a day after three homemade rockets were fired into a cargo plane area, slightly injuring a worker.
The Monday night attack came as thousands of Olympic athletes, officials and spectators are streaming through the airport on their way to the Nagano Games, which begin Saturday.
Police have no evidence so far that the rockets were linked to the Olympics or aimed at disrupting the flow of participants to Nagano, said airport spokesman Fujio Takahashi.
Authorities suspect the attack at the New Tokyo International Airport at Narita, 40 miles east of Tokyo, was carried out by leftist radicals who have long opposed the building of a second runway there.
A spokesman for the Nagano Prefectural Police said all necessary security measures were being taken to protect the Olympics. He said no changes in security in Nagano were being made because of the Narita attack.
Two of the rockets landed and exploded in the paved area near the hangars for cargo planes, and a third was found intact nearby, Takahashi said.
Mitsuhiro Uesugi, National Public Safety Commission chairman, said the attack was an "extremely heinous crime," and that security around the airport would be fully maintained.
Police were keeping closer watch on the airport buildings and more frequently patrolling the grounds on Tuesday to prevent another attack, Takahashi said.
Police said that the projectile that remained intact measured about 10 inches long and 2 inches wide, suggesting it was a trench mortar, Kyodo News reported.
The attack forced the airport's only runway to close briefly. Cargo handler Katsuji Fukushima, 20, suffered minor cuts on his forehead caused by flying rocket fragments.
Leftist radicals in the past have fired mortar-like projectiles toward the airport, but this was the first time anyone had been injured, Takahashi said. The airport was the scene of violent protests in the 1970s.
The rockets were apparently launched by a timing device. Police spotted the launching tubes in a bamboo grove a half-mile from the airport and were approaching the area when the rockets were fired.
Several radical groups have long opposed the airport because they believe it could be used for military purposes. The airport opened in 1978.
© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press
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