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Official: Passenger tried to hijack plane to Sochi - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A general view of the Kharkiv airport in Ukraine is seen in this March 9, 2012 file photo. Turkey scrambled an F-16 fighter jet to accompany a passenger plane arriving in Istanbul from Ukraine on February 7, 2014 after a bomb threat was made by a passenger demanding to go to the Winter Olympics venue of Sochi, Turkish officials said. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/Files)

A general view of the Kharkiv airport in Ukraine is seen in this March 9, 2012 file photo. Turkey scrambled an F-16 fighter jet to accompany a passenger plane arriving in Istanbul from Ukraine on February 7, 2014. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich/Files)

Ankara, AP—A passenger on board an Istanbul-bound flight Friday claimed there was a bomb on board and tried to hijack the plane to Sochi, Russia, where the Olympics are kicking off, an official said.

The plane from Kharkov, Ukraine, landed safely at Istanbul’s Gökçen airport, but 110 passengers are still on board and authorities are trying to convince the alleged hijacker to give himself up, Habib Soluk, the country’s Transport Ministry undersecretary, told NTV television. The station reported the man had been subdued, but there was no immediate confirmation of that.

Soluk said the man rose from his seat, shouted that there was bomb on board and tried to enter the locked cockpit. The pilot signaled that there was a hijack attempt and the airport was placed on high alert.

Pegasus Airlines confirmed in a brief statement that there was a “bomb threat” aboard their flight from Kharkov.

With about 100,000 police, security agents and army troops flooding Sochi, Russia has pledged to ensure “the safest Olympics in history.” But terror fears fueled by recent suicide bombings have left athletes, spectators and officials worldwide jittery about potential threats.

Security experts warn that Islamic militants in the Caucasus, who have threatened to derail the Winter Games that run from February 7–23, could achieve their goal by choosing soft targets away from the Olympic sites or even outside Sochi.

The back-to-back December suicide bombings of a railway station and a bus in Volgograd, about 400 miles (640 kilometers) east of Sochi, killed 34 people and demonstrated the militants’ ability to strike with shocking ease. A jihadist group in Dagestan, the epicenter of the Islamic rebellion against Russia that has engulfed the Caucasus, claimed responsibility for the Volgograd bombings and has threatened to strike Sochi.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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