Eritreans hijack plane to Khartoum

Several Eritreans being sent back from Libya have hijacked the plane they were travelling in and forced it to land in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

    Rights groups: Eritrean refugees have faced torture going home

    The Libyan military transport plane had taken off on Friday from the town of Khufrah and was heading for the Eritrean capital Asmara when some of the angry deportees moved into the cockpit.

    Reluctant to return to their country, the Eritreans are seeking political asylum in Sudan.

    "They are afraid to go home to Eritrea, that's why they said they did it," Sudanese Interior Minister Abd Al-Rahim Muhammad Husayn said.

    Human rights groups say hundreds of Eritrean refugees have faced torture and detention after being forcibly sent home.

    Mid-air drama

    "Some time after take-off they [the Eritreans]attacked us in the cockpit with knives and metal objects. They hijacked the plane and we were forced to land in Khartoum's airport"

    One of the pilots

    The Eritrean charge d'affaires said the deportees had no weapons but made such a disturbance on the plane that the pilot decided it was safest to land in Khartoum.

    One pilot, however, said the deportees were armed and attacked the aircraft crew.

    "Some time after take-off they attacked us in the cockpit with knives and metal objects. They hijacked the plane and we were forced to land in Khartoum's airport," said the pilot.

    The plane made an initial landing in Khartoum and the deportees demanded to speak to a UN official. It took off again 40 minutes later when the Eritreans saw heavy security and flew around for 40 minutes before making a second landing.

    Michael Lindenbauer, deputy representative in Sudan of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said the deportees would spend the night at Khartoum airport.

    The Sudanese authorities had made no decision to arrest any of them or force them to go to Eritrea, he said.

    Another UNHCR official said the Sudanese authorities were treating the incident as a humanitarian problem.

    The deportees had slipped into Libya through Sudan in the hope of emigrating illegally to Europe.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    A journey through Romania in the time of coronavirus

    A journey through Romania in the time of coronavirus

    A photojournalist travels across the country in a motorhome to document how curfews and quarantines have changed it.

    Life after death row: The pastor praying for Nigeria's prisoners

    The Nigerian pastor adapting to life after death row

    Clinton Kanu spent 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, but life on the outside feels far from free.

    What it means to love a dead child

    What it means to love a dead child

    You must forget all you thought you knew about grief when the landscape of your life has been demolished.