Zambia Forces Down Polish Passenger Plane
Jan. 09, 1987
LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ Zambian air force jets forced a Polish passenger plane with 130 people aboard to land at Lusaka's airport after the jetliner entered Zambian airspace without permission, a government-owned newspaper reported today.
The air force commander, Gen. Hannaniah Lugu, said the LOT Polish Airlines plane was forced down Thursday and allowed to resume its flight to Europe that night.
''All I can say is that a Polish plane from South Africa was ordered to land at our airport,'' Gen. Malimba Masheke was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. ''Experts from other sections of our security wing are finding out what actually happened.''
At LOT headquarters in Warsaw, Krzysztof Jaskot, assistant to the managing director, said: ''There will be no comment. It is not only a case involving LOT, but also a political case.'' A Polish government spokesman also had no comment.
The Zambian report said the aircraft was flying to Nairobi, Kenya. LOT has no scheduled flights to South Africa or Kenya and the report did not explain why the aircraft was in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, in Johannesburg, South Africa's director of civil aviation confirmed that Polish aircraft sometimes carry Polish seamen home using a Cape Town airport and that such a flight, with 160 Polish passengers, had left the country Thursday.
Civil aviation director Japie Smit said the airplane left Cape Town on a flight to Europe, but he could not confirm that it was the craft forced down in Lusaka. He said the plane was a Soviet-made Ilyushin, but he could not confirm that it was the craft forced down in Lusaka.
The Polish flights ''have been a fairly regular occurrence for some time now. They are not scheduled flights and need special permission to fly over our territory,'' Smit said.
Zambian authorities interviewed crew members, and passengers were kept in an airport building before the flight was allowed to resume, the Daily Mail reported.
Diplomats in Lusaka said security has been intensified since a raid in May 1986 by South African commandos against purported African National Congress targets in Lusaka.
The ANC is the main armed group fighting South Africa's white-led government and has its headquarters in Lusaka.