BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Saturday, 9 September, 2000, 02:25 GMT 03:25 UK
Hijacked Colombian plane released
The rebels are strongest in the west of the country
The rebels are strongest in the west of the country
Jeremy McDermott reports from Bogota

A domestic flight in Colombia, hijacked and forced to land in territory held by Marxist guerrillas, has been released with all passengers on board except the hijacker.

The flight with 22 passengers was travelling from Neiva to Florencia in the south of the country when a man stood up and brandished a pistol, forcing the pilot to divert the plane to the government-granted safe haven of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the west of the country.

The plane landed in San Vicente del Caguan, the capital of the 42,000 sq km zone granted to the the FARC for peace talks.

The hijacker got off and the plane returned to Neiva, where the other passengers, shocked but otherwise unhurt, got off.

Guerrillas deny responsibility

Police insist that the man is a known FARC guerrilla, who was arrested in 1998 for the murder of a policeman.

Pastrana granted guerrillas safe haven in 1998
Pastrana granted guerrillas safe haven in 1998
However, a FARC spokesman speaking from the guerrillas' safe haven, denied that the hijacking was planned by the FARC or that the man was a member of their organisation.

However, they have refused to hand him over to the authorities until they've conducted their own investigation.

Security forces are prohibited from entering the guerilla zone under an agreement signed by President Andreas Pastrana with the FARC at the end of 1998.

Hijack history

Analysts here believe that the hijacker is a member of the FARC, but was acting without the knowledge of the guerrilla command.

If so, he presents a problem, as the FARC will be unwilling to hand over one of their own to the Colombian police.

This is not the first time a domestic airliner has been hijacked by guerrillas.

In April last year, guerrillas from the National Liberation Army, the ELN, took over a plane and forced it to land on a deserted jungle airstrip, where they kidnapped the 25 passengers and crew.

Five people are still being held for ransom by the group.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories