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Hostage Freed After Three Weeks Of Captivity, Three Wounded

November 6, 1987 GMT

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ A dentist kidnapped three weeks ago was freed Thursday during a shootout on the outskirts of Dublin that left two policemen and one member of the kidnap gang wounded, police said.

Three or four kidnappers, one with a bullet wound in the leg, escaped in a hijacked van, said police spokesman Pat Conway. One man was arrested in the house.

As they headed west out of the capital, the kidnappers burst into the home of 47-year-old Una Darmody, stole her car and took her and a neighbor, Marie Hennessy, hostage. The two women were released unharmed after being driven 120 miles across the country to the city of Limerick, police said.

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Roadblocks were set up around Limerick and a senior police officer said: ″We believe the kidnap gang are holed up somewhere in the city.″

Police said the kidnapping of dentist John O’Grady appeared to be a criminal case and not a political one.

However, Dessie O’Hare, a onetime member of the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army, was quoted by The Sunday Tribune as saying that he led the five-man gang that abducted the 38-year-old father of three at gunpoint from his Dublin home on Oct. 14.

O’Hare was quoted as telling the paper he wanted a $500,000 ransom and that his group badly needed the money ″to fight the British.″

The Dublin news agency Ireland International reported Thursday that the gang raised its original ransom of about $468,000 to the equivalent of about $2.55 million.

The Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army, an extreme Marxist offshoot, are fighting to end British rule in Northern Ireland and unite the mainly Protestant province with the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic Irish Republic.

O’Grady was taken for medical treatment to Dublin’s Blackrock Clinic which said later he was in good condition.

The kidnappers had cut off parts of both of his little fingers on Tuesday and sent them to his family to back up a ransom demand, said Justice Minister Gerry Collins.

″This gang will be hunted down to the end of the road,″ Collins said. ″It shocks everyone, it shocks the nation.″

Three or four kidnappers escaped in a hijacked van after the shootout in the outskirts of Dublin, police said, and one of them had been wounded. Another gang member was arrested, police said.

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O’Grady is the son-in-law of wealthy Irish doctor Austin Darragh who established an international drugs testing company, the Dublin-based Institute of Clinical Pharmacology.

The rescue attempt began, police said, when two detectives making a routine call at a low-income housing project near Dublin were met with gunfire. One was shot, suffering serious injuries, they said.

Seconds later, police said, a masked gang burst from the front door, dragging their captive, and got into a getaway car.

But police reinforcements appeared and a shoot-out ensued.

Police said a second detective was very slightly injured, suffering a grazed head and hand, and one of the gang members was shot in the leg.

In the confusion, police said, an officer managed to grab O’Grady and hold onto him as the gunmen escaped, hijacking a van and then a car.

Police said one man was arrested later and a search was underway for the rest of the gang.