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A special court sentenced five men believed to be Palestinians to death by hanging Wednesday for the 1986 hijacking of a Pan Am jetliner that left 21 people dead and more than 100 wounded.

A judge handed down the maximum penalty to the five hijackers after a trial that lasted nearly a year.The sentence may be appealed to the Supreme Court. The death sentence in Pakistan is carried out by hanging.

The men, who are believed to be Palestinians, were convicted of the Sept. 5, 1986, hijacking of a Pan Am jetliner in the southern port of Karachi that ended 16 hours later when the battery-powered lights on the plane failed and the hijackers opened fire and hurled at least two grenades.

Twenty-one people died, including two Americans, and about 150 were wounded before security forces moved in and seized four of the hijackers. The fifth suspect was arrested in Islamabad a few days later.