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Ukraine launches terrorism probe over hijack

Ukrainian man said he had a bomb and demanded Turkey-bound plane to land in Sochi for Winter Olympics.

Last updated: 08 Feb 2014 13:24
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Turkey scrambled an F16 fighter jet to accompany a passenger plane after a bomb threat [Reuters]

Ukraine has launched a terror investigation after a Ukrainian man claiming to have a bomb attempted to force a Turkish airliner to land in Russia's Sochi for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games. 

"We have launched an investigation into an attempt to commit an act of terror and an attempt to hijack a plane," Maxim Lenko, Ukraine's Security Service investigative department chief, said on Saturday.

Lenko said that the Ukrainian who one official in Kiev said was "in an advanced state of drunkenness" during the incident - had a personal dislike for the politics of President Viktor Yanukovich and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

Yanukovich's "hands are drenched in blood", the man said as he demanded the plane be flown to Sochi where the Ukrainian leader held crisis talks with Putin, according to Lenko.

The man - who officials said was born in 1969 - brandished what he said was a detonator as he tried gaining access to the cockpit.

Fighter jet escort

Turkey scrambled an F16 fighter jet to escort the passenger plane on Friday after the bomb threat was made.

The jet, a Pegasus Airlines flight from Kharkiv to Istanbul, was carrying 110 passengers.

Television footage showed the flight arriving in Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport. It landed at 1602 GMT on Friday, according to Dogan news agency.

Al Jazeera's Isil Sariyuce, reporting from Istanbul, said that all passengers were confirmed safe after it landed.

She said that he had announced he had a bomb shortly after take-off.

"The cabin crew managed to convince him that they were flying to Sochi but in the meantime they had pressed the alert button," our correspondent said.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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