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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 22:46 GMT
'Hijack' drama on Russian plane

A Russian passenger plane made an emergency landing in Prague after a man tried to enter the cockpit, claiming he had an explosive device.

A spokesman for the airline, Aeroflot, said the Russian citizen wanted the Moscow-Geneva flight diverted to Cairo.

Czech police described the incident as an attempted hijacking, but Aeroflot said it was a case of "hooliganism".

The man was arrested but all 168 passengers on board were unharmed and the plane later left for Geneva.

No explosives were eventually found on board the Airbus A-320, and Czech authorities said they were not considering terrorism as a motive.

The plane taxied to an isolated area of Prague's Ruzyne airport after landing, where it was surrounded by emergency vehicles.

It was allowed to resume its flight at 2100 GMT, 11 hours after landing, an airport spokeswoman said.

Man tied-up

"Today, on flight 271 Moscow-Geneva, one of the passengers on the flight declared that he had an explosive device," said Aeroflot deputy chief executive Lev Koshlyakov.

"The crew, in accordance with the current rules, asked to make an emergency landing in Prague and landed at Prague airport. Local law enforcement apprehended the passenger.

"The preliminary version is that this was a case of hooliganism."

Aeroflot identified the passenger as Yevgeny Dagayev, thought to be 32 years old.

Russia's Itar-Tass news agency quoted another Aeroflot spokesman as saying that a drunken passenger provoked a brawl, threatened to damage the plane and demanded that it change course.

Czech police chief Vladislav Husak said the man had been overpowered by other passengers and crew after trying to break into the cockpit.

According to some reports, he was then tied up.

'Not terrorism'

Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Andrej Cirtek said two Gripen fighters were in the air ready to intervene, but proved unnecessary.

Jan Subert, A spokesman for the Czech counterintelligence service, the BIS, said that terrorism apparently was not involved.

"From what we know, the incident had nothing to do with terrorism," he said.

Aeroflot said the man was travelling with eight family members, three of them children.

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