A hijacked Sudanese jetliner carrying 186 passengers and 13 crew landed at London’s Stansted airport early today after a man claiming to have a grenade and dynamite demanded to go to Britain.
The unidentified man hijacked Sudan Airways Flight 150 on Monday night about 25 minutes after it left the Sudanese capital of Khartoum heading for Amman, Jordan.
The Airbus 310 jetliner landed at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus to refuel before being forced on to London. Cyprus aviation officials quoted the man as saying he wanted political asylum in Britain.
However, if was not immediately clear if there was more than one hijacker aboard the plane as it landed at 4:30 a.m. today at Stansted, London’s third airport, 30 miles northeast of the British capital.
“One hijacker spoke to us,” said Glafcos Xenos, a police spokesman in the airport control tower at Larnaca. “He said, ‘I have a grenade and TNT (dynamite). I only want the plane refueled and to go to London.”’
Xenos said police negotiated with the hijacker for two hours trying to persuade him to free at least some passengers, but he refused.
Michael Herodotou, director of civil aviation in Cyprus, said he was under the impression there was only one hijacker, but Xenos said the plane’s pilot reported multiple hijackers.
Mohammad Qassem, an aviation official in the control tower in Cairo, Egypt, said the pilot contacted the Cairo tower, told officials the plane had been hijacked and requested permission to fly through Egyptian airspace to Rome. Moments later, the pilot said he would go to Larnaca because the plane didn’t have enough fuel.
Egypt’s Middle East news agency MENA, in a dispatch from Khartoum, said Sudanese officials knew about the hijacking of the state-run plane but had no comment.
The Middle East has seen a series of hijackings involving Sudanese nationals in recent years.
Two Sudanese men hijacked a Sudanese airliner to the neighboring country of Eritrea in March, where they surrendered without injury to the 49 passengers and crew.