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Police say grenade caused Airbus blast


TOKYO (Agencies via Xinhua) - A grenade stuffed in a waste bin caused the blast that led to Sunday's near-disaster aboard a Thai airliner over Japan, police investigating the incident said yesterday.

The explosion, which blew out a pressure bulkhead and two of the airliner's three control systems, caused the new Airbus to plummet violently before the pilot made a successful emergency landing at Osaka.

A man being questioned by Japanese police about the explosion is a member of Japan's most powerful underworld syndicate, a police source said yesterday.

The unidentified 43-year-old man belongs to the Yamaguchi-Gumi, the source said, but under interrogation - which continued yesterday - he denied any responsibility for the plast.

His possible involvement has aroused fresh interest in Japanese organized crime, known as the Yakuza, and the growing international scope of its operations.

The suspect was among 62 persons injured when an explosion hit the rear of the Thai Airways A-300, causing it to suddenly decompress and plunge 8,000 metres.

The flight was carrying 233 passengers and 123 crew from Bangkok to Osaka via Manila.

Police now believe that the accident was caused by the explosion of a hand grenade - possibly a USmade M26-AE "pineapple" device.

Passengers interviewed by reporters said the man being questioned had occupied seat 25-B, at the centre of the wide-bodied aircraft, after boarding at Manila.

Then, before getting up to use a toilet, he announced: "There's no telling what will happen in a minute."

Police said the man regularly travelled to Manila.

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