Accessibility links

Hijackers Surrender in Turkey After Freeing Hostages

Turkish officials confirm that the hijacking of a passenger plane from Cyprus has ended peacefully at Turkey's Antalya Airport. The two men - claiming to have a bomb - had demanded to be flown to Iran or Syria. But the pilot insisted on making an emergency fuel stop in Turkey - where the hijackers surrendered after letting most of the 136 passengers go. Senior Turkish officials say one of the hijackers is Turkish and the other carries a Syrian passport. Nathan Morley in Nicosia describes Saturday's events.

According to the Turkish Cypriot authorities and the Atlas Jet (company), the two hijackers have now surrendered to police and they have been taken into custody.

The men were said to be protesting against the United States and were said to be known to authorities both in Turkey and in Cyprus.

The Atlas Jet plane was flying from Ercan airport in northern Cyprus to Istanbul when two men claiming to have a bomb tried to have the plane diverted to Tehran. But the pilot told them he did not have enough fuel and diverted it to Antalya [airport] in Turkey.

The plane had been an hour into the journey when these two men forced their way into the cockpit. They caused a lot of panic on board, we understand, from people who later gave accounts.

Some passengers said the pilot lost control for a short period and then the plane started to lose altitude before they regained control.

Passengers told local television in Turkey that the hijackers were tall, dark skinned and apparently speaking in Arabic and claiming to be from al-Qaida - we heard that from several different passengers.