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Tuesday, 11 January, 2000, 18:31 GMT
Suspected Bangladesh hijackers arrested

Bangladesh Biman The 11 were arrested boarding a flight for Dhaka


By Subir Bhaumik in Calcutta

Indian police say they detained 11 passengers boarding a flight from Calcutta to Dhaka on Tuesday on suspicion that they were planning to hijack a Bangladeshi plane.

Immigration officials at Calcutta's international airport told the BBC that they stopped the Dhaka-bound passengers just before they were going to board a Bangladesh Biman aircraft.

They were said to be trying to secure the release of those sentenced to death for assassinating the country's founder, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.


Biman logo

They said that the 11 were carrying Iranian passports, but Indian intelligence say they are all Afghans, who have lived in Iran as refugees for several years now.

The joint director of India's intelligence bureau told the BBC that five of them were also found to be in possession of fake Israeli passports when their hand baggage was thoroughly searched during questioning.

They said the 11 have confessed that they had no visas for Bangladesh, but they were planning to get visas on landing at Dhaka.

Warning

All 11 are being questioned at a secret location by Indian intelligence officials.

Bangladesh Biman officials say they had been warned last week by Indian authorities that some members belonging to what they describe as a global Islamic terrorist group were planning to hijack a Bangladesh Biman aircraft in this region.

Indian intelligence say that they had received such reports from a top source in the Middle East.

The former president's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, is now the country's prime minister and her government has gone all out to punish the soldiers and politicians who were involved in the assassination of her father during a coup in 1975.

Some of those convicted are still at large, but many are already in jail; among them, the former Bangladesh army colonel, Farooq Rehman, who was said to have planned the coup.

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See also:
08 Nov 98 |  South Asia
Death for Bangladesh coup plotters
08 Nov 98 |  South Asia
Analysis: The controversy never dies

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