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March 28th, 2003, 12:47 PM #1
March 28th, 2003, 01:46 PM #2
Turkish Airlines Flight Hijacked, Lands in Greece
ATHENS (Reuters) - A Turkish Airlines domestic flight carrying 203 people from Istanbul to Ankara was hijacked on Friday and landed in Greece, officials told Reuters.
Turkey's Transport Minister Binali Yildirim said the Airbus 310 jet had landed in Athens. Greek air traffic also confirmed the plane landed there.
Yildirim told the Turkish CNN Turk channel there was believed to be only one hijacker who was insisting on being taken to Berlin.
"We have information that he wants to go to Tegel (airport) in Berlin," Yildirim said.
A Greek government official told Reuters the plane had informed the control tower in Athens it was running out of fuel, "so we had to give the permission for the plane to land," after initially refusing permission.
He said airliner was still on the runway and there had been no moves to refuel it so far.
The spokesman said that other than the exchanges between the control tower and the plane, the Greek authorities had had no other contact with the aircraft or the hijackers.
The state-run Anatolian news agency also said information from the aircraft's pilot indicated the flight might be bound for Germany.
Airline officials said the flight took off at 10 p.m. local time (3 p.m. EST). They said nothing was known about the demands of the hijacker or hijackers.
Anatolian said the plane was carrying 194 passengers and nine crew.
Several senior Turkish officials were reported to be aboard the flight, a regular shuttle between the country's two biggest cities.
Turkey has been hit by several hijackings in recent years. In November 2002, Israeli security guards foiled a suspected hijacking attempt on an El Al Airlines flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul, overpowering a passenger armed with a pocket knife, witnesses and officials said.
In October 1999, an EgyptAir Boeing 737 was hijacked when a lone Arabic-speaking hijacker demanded the plane be diverted from its journey from Istanbul to Cairo. It landed in Hamburg where the hijacker quickly surrendered to German police.