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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007, 11:01 GMT
Chad arrests Sudan plane hijacker
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A lone gunman has been arrested after hijacking a Sudanese passenger jet and diverting it to N'Djamena, the capital of neighbouring Chad.

The Air West Boeing 737 was flying 103 people from Sudan's capital, Khartoum, to El Fasher in the Darfur region.

The hijacker was carrying a machine gun, and a Chadian government minister said he was seeking asylum in the UK.

Sudan accuses Chad of backing rebel forces in the Darfur region, while Chad says Sudan aids Chadian rebel groups.

Relations between the two counties have been poor for some time, and diplomatic relations were temporarily halted in 2006.

Chad's infrastructure minister said the hijacker wanted political asylum in the UK to escape persecution in Sudan.

He has been arrested and will answer for his actions. Chad is not a sanctuary for terrorists
Adoum Younomosmi
Chadian infrastructure minister
When he eventually landed in Chad, he asked for guarantees of his safety from the French embassy.

"Chad did not act on his demand," Adoum Younomosmi said.

"He has been arrested and will answer for his actions. Chad is not a sanctuary for terrorists."

Surrounded

The plane took off in Khartoum at about 0900 (0600 GMT) and landed at about 1130 (0830 GMT).

Chadian security forces surrounded the plane at the airport as passengers were led to safety.

The hijacker then followed some 20 minutes later, after negotiations.

Air West, based in Khartoum, is a privately owned company, and operates domestic passenger services and international cargo charters.

The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says no-one has yet explained how the hijacker managed to get a machine gun onto the aircraft at Khartoum, but security systems at the airport are old and dilapidated.

Khartoum has a long history of hijacking incidents, having both received and been the source of hijacked planes.




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