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Hijack Suspect Arrested Off India

September 9, 2002

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Cabin crew and passengers overpowered a knife-wielding Indian man who tried to hijack an Air Seychelles plane on a flight from the Indian city of Bombay to the Seychelles on Monday.

The 41-year-old man, holding an Indian passport, was arrested when the plane landed at its stopover in Male, the capital of Maldives, an island nation 310 miles off the Indian coast.

Crew members and some passengers seized the man as he tried to enter the cockpit flashing a knife, Maldives’ Foreign Secretary A. Shaheed told The Associated Press over the telephone.

``Just a few minutes before landing the man tried to enter the cockpit, some of the aircraft crew and some passengers stopped him. In the process, one of the crew members was slightly hurt,″ Shaheed said.

The Maldivian government was getting in touch with the Indian High Commission in Male to get details of the suspect. A woman who answered the phone at the High Commission said none of the diplomats were available to talk.

The plane left for the Seychelles after a delay of 40 minutes, Maldives’ civil aviation chief Mohammad Razi said. The stopover time at Male is normally about seven hours.

Monday’s hijack attempt comes at a time when security has been tightened at airports across the world ahead of the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

The suspect was from India and wanted to divert the Boeing 737 to some other destination, Razi said. Several other passengers were also questioned, he said.

There were about 70 passengers, mostly Indian nationals, on board, Razi said.

Air Seychelles issued a statement saying the airline had stepped up security measures.

Update hourly