IMAGE: Jose Orlando Jimenez
Reuters file
Costa Rican police official Jose Orlando Jimenez in a handout photo.
updated 7/28/2004 1:42:02 AM ET 2004-07-28T05:42:02

A Costa Rican policeman apparently distraught over an impending job transfer killed himself and three of the nine hostages he took at the Chilean embassy Tuesday, ending a tense seven-hour standoff.

Security Minister Rogelio Ramos announced that police had entered the embassy, only to find the embassy guard, identified as Orlando Jimenez, 54, and three hostages dead of gunshot wounds.

Six other embassy employees were found safe, but hiding in the building. It appeared they had survived by locking themselves in another room.

The three dead hostage were all apparently Chilean citizens. They were tentatively identified as embassy secretary Roberto Nieto, Consul Cristian Youssef, and cultural attache Rocio Sariego. At least one Costa Rican and one Nicaraguan employee were assumed to be among the survivors.

Police surrounded the embassy in San Jose, the capital, after Jimenez took the hostages and fired shots from his service revolver at about 3:30 p.m. local time (2130 GMT).

After trying and failing to make contact with Jimenez, police entered the building.

Presidential chief of staff Ricardo Toledo said Jimenez "was bleeding to death" when police found him.

Jimenez, described as a model policeman, had been informed he was to be transferred from the embassy guard detail, where he had worked for the last five years.

"He may have been upset about this, although we are still trying to find out the reason, and this is one possibility we are evaluating," Ramos said. His service pistol appeared to be the only weapon he had.

Earlier, Victor Hugo Viquez, brother of embassy employee Jeanette Viquez, said she had called their father from inside the building to say the hostages were all right but they had been locked in a room.

Chilean Ambassador Guillermo Yunge was not in the embassy building at the time of the incident. Later, he was able to talk to some of the hostages by telephone -- apparently, they were among the survivors.

Costa Rican police initially said 11 people were being held; Yunge later put the number at 10, and finally Chilean Foreign Minister Soledad Alvear told local media in Santiago, Chile that there were nine hostages.

All are believed to be embassy employees.

The police officer in charge of the embassy detail, Eliecer Leon, described the hostage-taker as "responsible, serious, the best officer we have had."

"We don't know what happened to him," Leon said. "We all make mistakes."

The policeman's son, Randall Jimenez, 30, came to the embassy to try to help end the standoff. He called his father "centered and normal."

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