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Fake Bomb Used in Turkish Cypriot Plane Hijacking


Turkish media say two men who tried to hijack a Turkish Cypriot flight to the Middle East Saturday did not have a bomb as they claimed.

Reports quoting Turkish authorities say the so-called bomb the hijackers used to threaten the plane's 136 passengers and six crewmembers turned out to be modeling clay. However, police say at least one of the hijackers had a knife.

Both men later peacefully surrendered to police after most of the people aboard the aircraft either escaped or were released during a refueling stop at Antalya Airport in southwestern Turkey.

Authorities also detained one passenger as a suspected accomplice.

The two hijackers seized control of an Atlasjet flight traveling from northern Cyprus to Istanbul early Saturday, demanding to be flown to Iran or Syria. Passengers interviewed after the incident on Turkish television said the hijackers claimed to have ties with al-Qaida.

The motive for the hijacking is not clear.

Authorities say one suspect is Turkish. The other has a Syrian passport, but is believed to be Palestinian.

Officials say some of the passengers and crew who fled the plane suffered minor injuries when they jumped from the aircraft's open door to the Antalya Airport tarmac. The pilots escaped through the cockpit windows, and they shut off the plane's power to prevent the hijackers from taking off.

Cyprus has been divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded the island in response to a Greek-backed military coup in Nicosia. Only Turkey recognizes a Turkish Cypriot state.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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