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Hijackers Seize Airplane in Moscow

August 9, 1998

MOSCOW (AP) _ Two hijackers seized a Russian airliner shortly before it landed in Moscow on Sunday and threatened to blow up the plane if they did not receive $100,000, officials said.

The unidentified men commandeered the TU-154 jet carrying 97 passengers while en route to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport from the Siberian city of Tymen, according to officials from the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Federal Security Service.

Earlier reports said there was only one hijacker and that the flight was coming from Ust-Ilimsk, also in Siberia.

The hijackers were demanding the money and a flight to another destination, but the exact location was not immediately clear, officials said.

Sergei Matyugin, a spokesman for the security service, told journalists at the airport that all the passengers and crew had been removed from the plane. He said the only people still on the plane were the two hijackers.

Earlier, the Emergency Situations Ministry said that an agent from the security service had been allowed on board while the passengers were still on the plane and began negotiations with the hijackers.

The conflicting accounts could not immediately be reconciled.

Security agents arrived at the scene shortly after the hijacking, but the airport continued to handle regular air traffic while the hijacked plane sat on the tarmac, officials said.

Russia’s last hijacking took place in December, when a man claiming to be wired with explosives commandeered a plane traveling to Moscow from the eastern city of Magadan. He was captured shortly after the plane landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo-1 airport.

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