Passenger hijack attempt thwarted

Updated: 2006-12-28 20:05

PRAGUE - A passenger tried to hijack a Russian plane on Thursday but was overpowered and the aircraft was able to make an emergency landing in Prague, officials said.

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"One of the passengers on board the Moscow-Geneva flight said he had an explosive device and ordered (the crew) to change course," Lev Koshlyakov, deputy general director of Russian airline Aeroflot, told Reuters.

"By now the passenger has been pacified and is in the hands of law protection officers," he added. "There are reasons to believe that this was an act of hooliganism."

The Airbus A-320 on the Moscow-Geneva route made an unplanned landing in Prague after the pilot declared an emergency on board. Russia's transport ministry said there were 168 people on board.

"A drunk person was on board. He provoked a brawl with passengers, threatened to damage the plane and demanded that it change the course," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Aeroflot representative in Prague Viktor Parkhimovich as saying.

Czech police spokesman Pavel Hantak said the man was subdued on the plane.

"According to our information none of the pasengers, nor crew, were hurt. The culprit apparently was not injured either," he said.

The plane landed in Prague at 10:42 a.m. local time (0942 GMT). After landing, it was directed to taxi to an outer area of the airport, where it was surrounded by emergency vehicles, officials said.

Aeroflot flights suffered a series of hijackings in the early 1990s.

Aeroflot's Koshlyakov said the the plane was now preparing to continue the flight to Geneva.

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