Peruvian troops stormed the besieged Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima and all the Marxist rebels holding the building and one of their 72 hostages was killed. Earlier all 72 hostages held by the rebels for 126 days had been rescued alive. President Alberto Fujimori, wearing a bullet-proof jacket, arrived at the site immediately afterwards and entered the compound where he was cheered by soldiers. They swarmed into the building and engaged about 20 Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement rebels in a fierce but brief battle punctuated by billowing smoke, gunfire and explosions. After 40 minutes they triumphantly pulled down the MRTA flag that had flown over the residence since it was stormed in an audacious pre-Christmas raid on December 17.
Other important events:
1822 Turkish fleet captures island of Chios off Greece.
1898 The first shot of the Spanish-American War rings out as the USS Nashville captures a Spanish merchant ship off Key West, Florida.
1931 Egypt and Iraq sign treaty of friendship, the first pact between Egypt and another Arab state.
1945 Allied forces take Bologna in Italy during the Second World War.
1956 China appoints Dalai Lama chairman of committee to prepare Tibet for regional autonomy within Chinese People’s Republic.
1970 The first Earth Day is celebrated.
1975 First Vietnamese refugees arrive on US West Coast while South Vietnam is falling to communists.
1980 Dubai Natural Gas Company Limited (Dugas) is inaugurated.
1985 Tancredo Neves dies before he can take office as Brazil’s first civilian president in 21 years.
1990 American hostage Robert Polhill is freed in Lebanon after almost 39 months.
1992 A series of at least 20 gas explosion hits Reforma district in Mexico, killing at least 230 people.
1998 The 22 members of the Arab League sign the first Arab convention against terrorism.
1999 Nato destroys Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s home during airstrike.
2004 Two trains carrying fuel collide and explode at a North Korean railway station near the Chinese border, killing 154 people.
2006 Hundreds are injured in Katmandu when Nepali security opens fire on tens of thousands of protesters marching toward the royal palace.
2007 South Korea reaches a deal with North Korea to resume rice aid as well as agreeing to the first run of trains across their border in 50 years.
2008 Several hijackers of a Dubai-registered ship are arrested when the vessel is stormed by Somali troops to end the hijack.
2012 Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel wins the Bahrain Grand Prix in Manama.
2013 The election commission in Bangladesh declares Abdul Hamid president-elect.
2015 At least 17 Indian pilgrims are killed when a bus plunges into a river while negotiating a sharp bend along a downhill section of the Prithvi Highway in Nepal.