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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 17:53 GMT
Hijacks mar Turkey security claims

Egypt Air: Plane taken by lone hijacker
The hijacking of the Russian plane in Turkey is the latest in a string of hijacks in the country during the past few years.

The last was in 1999, when a hijacker armed with a knife commandeered a Cairo-bound flight shortly after take-off from Istanbul.

He surrendered to German police after the plane landed in Hamburg, Germany. None of the 46 passengers on board were harmed.

In October 1998, Turkish special forces freed passengers and crew on board a Turkish Airlines plane after a seven-hour stand-off at Ankara airport.

The hijacker, who was armed with a hand grenade and a gun, was shot dead. The security forces said he was a left-wing militant protesting at the war with the Kurds in south-east Turkey.

Improved security

After the incident, the Turkish authorities claimed to have improved security at their airports.

In September 1998, two armed hijackers surrendered to the authorities in northern Turkey after freeing more than 70 passengers and crew unharmed.

Earlier the same year, in March, a Turkish man was arrested in Ankara after trying to hijack a Boeing 727 belonging to Cyprus Turkish Airlines during a flight from northern Nicosia to Ankara.

A month earlier, another Turkish citizen took control of a Turkish Airlines flight from Adana to Ankara and forced it to land at the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir. The incident ended without bloodshed.

Anniversary bomb plan

In November 1998, the Turkish security forces said they had thwarted a plan to crash a bomb-laden hijacked plane onto the 75th National Anniversary celebrations.

Officials said a radical Islamic group was behind the plot. Twenty-four people were arrested.

All were alleged to be linked to the Anatolian Federated Islamic State - an illegal organisation based in Germany committed to the formation of a state based on Sharia principles.

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15 Mar 01 | Middle East
Saudis start talks with hijackers
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