Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

February 7, 2014

Official: Passenger tried to hijack plane to Sochi

ANKARA, Turkey — A Ukrainian passenger on 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 Kharkiv, Ukraine, landed safely at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen 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. The Interfax news agency cited the Ukrainian Security Service, the country's main security agency, as saying the passenger who tried to hijack the plane was in a state of severe alcohol intoxication. It also said he has been pacified, and no weapons or explosives were found on him, but it was not clear where the information was coming from.

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.

"The man was made to believe the plane was heading to Sochi," he said. "We are hoping that the passengers are evacuated without even a nose-bleed."

Pegasus Airlines confirmed in a brief statement there was a "bomb threat" aboard their flight from Kharkiv.

The plane's captain, Ilyas Karagulle, signaled that the crew was well, according to state-run TRT television.

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.

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