Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Murder-suicide leaves four dead

REUTERS , San Jose, Costa Rica

A Costa Rican policeman shot and killed three people on Tuesday inside the Chilean Embassy he was in charge of protecting and then turned the gun on himself in a dramatic hostage crisis.

Security Minister Rogelio Ramos said police moved into the embassy on Tuesday night and found the bodies of the hostage-taker and his three victims, who included Chile's consul and first secretary.

"When we went in a few minutes ago, we found four people dead," Ramos said, adding the policeman, who was apparently upset about being transferred to another job, killed himself with a bullet to the head.

The police officer was identified as 54-year-old Jose Orlando Jimenez. He led security at the embassy for five years, but took 10 people -- a mix of Chilean diplomats, officials and employees -- hostage on Tuesday afternoon.

Seven of the hostages escaped death by locking themselves in a room inside the embassy.

"It is clear he shot the three people who died and tried to shoot the rest but they took refuge in a room. He tried to open it and when he saw that he couldn't, he shot himself," Ramos said.

Assault units surrounded the embassy from the start of the crisis and officials used bullhorns to exhort Jimenez to give himself up, but they never managed to open negotiations for a peaceful end to the crisis.

Chilean Interior Minister Jose Miguel Insulza, who is on a visit to Costa Rica, told Chile's state television station the drama inside the embassy was over long before police moved in.

"Unfortunately, the tragedy had already occurred," he said. "There was no way to foresee it."

Costa Rica has long been considered the most stable country in Central America and is a popular tourist destination, but it saw a string of hostage crises in the 1990s.

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