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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 20:55 GMT
Israel airline 'plants guns on flyers'
An air passenger was stunned to discover a handgun had entered his luggage after a flight with Israel's El Al airlines.

Browning pistol
Handgun hide-and-seek: Airline staff were probably testing security

The man discovered the weapon while unpacking in Israel after a visit to Germany, reports Israeli daily Haaretz.

He immediately reported the find to the police - only to be told that the weapon, which had been de-activated, was part of a security drill for airline staff.

According to Haaretz, security officers sometimes plant replica guns in passengers' luggage as a way of keeping El Al's baggage-checkers on their toes.

In theory, the weapon would be discovered during checks and removed, leaving passengers none the wiser.

This handgun, however, appears to have slipped through the net.

The airline could not confirm or deny the report.

"El Al uses different tactics to ensure the safety of its passengers," said a spokeswoman. "We won't detail our tactics."

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