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Hijacker of Turkish Plane Arrested

March 29, 2003

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A hijacker saying he was armed with explosives commandeered a domestic Turkish flight late Friday and forced it to land in Greece. He surrendered hours later and more than 200 people aboard were freed unharmed, officials said.

Police arrested 20-year-old Ozgur Gencarslan, a Turkish citizen who was reportedly overwhelmed by family problems.

``All passengers are safe outside the airplane. That was our concern,″ Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou said at Athens airport.

Turkish police said Gencarslan hijacked the plane to reunite with his father who lives in Germany, private NTV television reported. He was distraught because his stepfather had barred him from seeing his mother and sister in Turkey.

``It appears he had some psychological problems. Another plane is on the way to collect the passengers,″ Greek Deputy Transport Minister Manolis Stratakis said.

He said police were checking passenger reports that the hijacker was strapped with explosives and brandishing a razor.

Turkish authorities said that there were no injuries among the 205 people aboard _ 196 passengers and nine crew members.

Update hourly