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Attempt to hijack Turkish plane to Sochi stopped

Ankara, Turkey, Feb 8 (): A Ukrainian passenger on an Istanbul-bound flight claimed Friday there was a bomb on board and tried to hijack the plane to Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics is kicking off, an official said.

The 45-year-old Ukrainian hijacker threatened to set off a bomb with a cell phone if his demands were not met, but he was tricked by the pilot who landed at Istanbul, where after a four-hour stand-off, the Ukranian national was arrested. The governor of Istanbul, Huseyin Avni Mutlu, said the Ukrainian was grabbed by special security forces as the Turkish aircraft, a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 110 passengers, was being evacuated at Sabiha Gokcen Airport.

Turkish news organizations reported that the man threatened the crew members soon after the flight left Kharkov in Ukraine. The pilot then informed the authorities in Turkey. In the beginning, the hijacker was thinking that the plane was going to Sochi, but after sometime, he realized that he was in Turkey’s one of the largest cities, Istanbul.

The hijacker agreed to the evacuation of kids, women and old passengers, and once the evacuation began, other passengers were also helped out of the plane, leaving the hijacker only with the crew, the governor said. Then, the security forces entered the aircraft and surrounded the hijacker “in a swift, quick and effective manner.”

The governor tweeted around 10 p.m. that “the air adventurer has been neutralized” and all other passengers “arrived in port from the plane without any problems.” Special forces who entered the plane took the hijacker into custody “in a swift operation” without finding a “bomb on him,” Governor told reporters later.

Passengers’ relatives and friends who went to Sabiha Gokcen, on the Asian side of Istanbul, described tense cell phone conversations with those on the plane. Passengers were reachable on their telephones for nearly four hours until the security units entered the aircraft. Traffic at the airport was stopped until the authorities announced that the plane had been held and the Ukrainian passenger was in custody.