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Cuban Leader Blames US For Deadly Hijack Attempt in Havana

Cuban President Fidel Castro has accused the United States of inspiring two soldiers who killed an officer during a failed attempt to hijack an airplane to the United States.

In a written statement Monday, Mr. Castro said the soldiers were encouraged by the prospect of impunity in the U.S.

Last week, two Cuban soldiers hijacked a bus with hostages and then forced the driver to take them to Havana's international airport, where they tried to take over an empty plane. The soldiers killed a lieutenant colonel who tried to prevent the plane's hijacking.

Authorities arrested the two soldiers.

Mr. Castro said the soldiers have not yet been put on trial because they were both wounded in the hijack attempt.

The soldiers and a third accomplice had escaped from a military base on Sunday. Officials captured the third man before the attempted hijacking. During their escape, they killed a soldier and wounded another.

Mr. Castro also criticized the United States for last month's release on bail of Cuban exile and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles. Cuba accuses Posada of masterminding the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 people aboard.

The 80-year-old Cuban leader is still recovering from intestinal surgery he underwent more than nine months ago. He has not yet taken back the governmental powers he handed to his brother, Raul.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.