Hijackers Surrender

A009056821.jpgThe men who hijacked a Turkish plane Saturday morning surrendered themselves to the Turkish officials later in the day. Hijackers claiming to have a bomb and to be members of al-Qaeda hijacked a passenger plane which belonged to the private Atlas-Jet airline company heading from northern Cyprus to Istanbul Saturday.

“Terrorists have been detained and the case is dismissed,” deputy governor of Antalya, Kheyroddin Balchi Oghlou said.

The hijackers had asked that the plane be diverted to Iran or Syria but the pilots landed the plane at Antalya airport, near Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Most of the passengers managed to escape from the rear exit of the plane while the hijackers were releasing the women and children from the front exit, passengers who left the aircraft told private NTV television.

According to the Turkish officials, only crew and “a small number” of passengers were left on board before the hijackers surrendered.

Passengers said there were two hijackers on board and that they spoke Arabic between themselves.

There were 136 passengers on board when the plane left Ercan airport in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus at 6:45 am. The plane landed at Antalya airport about an hour later.

One passenger, Erhan Erkul, told NTV television that the hijackers ran toward the cockpit shortly after takeoff, tried to break down the door but failed.

“They claimed to have bombs,” Erkul said.

Erkul said the hijackers were from al-Qaeda, but another passenger said the hijackers did not make any announcement about who they were.

A woman, who was not identified, said the hijackers allowed the crew to serve water to the passengers, promising that they would not hurt them.

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