Turkish security forces have seized a Ukrainian man who made
a bomb threat and tried to hijack a passenger plane,
demanding to go to the Winter Olympics venue of Sochi.
Earlier Turkey had scrambled an F-16 fighter jet to accompany
the Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-800 plane with 110 passengers
on board as it landed at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport
after a flight from the Ukrainian city of Kharkov.
"Security forces seized the hijacker, there were no
casualties," the official said, adding that all passengers
were evacuated from the plane shortly beforehand.
Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu told reporters after the
operation that the suspect was a 45-year-old Ukrainian man
who had a small bag with electronic goods but no bomb.
A photograph displayed by the broadcaster NTV showed a man
wearing a red, white and blue sports top, believed to be the
suspect, standing up from his seat near the front of the
plane as a steward looked on.
Video footage also showed passengers sitting calmly on the
aircraft before the operation was carried out.
The governor had arrived at the airport earlier in the
evening to take charge of a crisis centre to handle the
incident. Ambulances and fire engines were sent to the scene.
The plane landed in Istanbul at 6:05 pm (local time) and
various Turkish media outlets reported earlier in the evening
that the suspect had been seized, but the operation to
capture him did not happen until shortly before 10pm.
The reports had said the suspect was believed to have drunk
alcohol. The governor did not confirm those reports.
Several U.S. and European security officials have said that
last-minute intelligence reports about possible
Olympics-related attacks continue to flow into Western
President Vladimir Putin has staked his political and
personal prestige on the Sochi Games, intended to show how
far Russia has come since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
A bombing, hijacking or hostage crisis would seriously
threaten those ambitions.