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Pilots Attacked on New Zealand Plane


A woman has been arrested after allegedly stabbing two pilots and threatening to blow up a 19-seat commuter plane in New Zealand. Police say the mid-air drama took place over the country's South Island. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

The Jetstream aircraft was traveling from the provincial town of Blenheim to Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island when the emergency unfolded.

Police say the two pilots sent a distress call after being attacked in the cockpit by a knife-wielding passenger. None of the other passengers on the Air New Zealand flight was injured.

Authorities say a 33-year-old woman also claimed there were two bombs on board the aircraft. Bomb squad officers boarded the plane but found no explosives.

The woman was arrested when the plane touched down in Christchurch, one of New Zealand's busiest airports.

Police inspector Dave Cliff says the injured pilots were taken to a hospital for treatment.

"One pilot received quite severe cuts to the hand and the second pilot received an injury to the foot," he said. "It's understood the injuries were caused by a knife."

The suspect is being questioned in Christchurch. The motive for the alleged attack is still unclear. The woman lives in New Zealand, but is originally from Somalia.

Flights to and from Christchurch were suspended for more than two hours while the aircraft was searched. National carrier Air New Zealand has said it would review security procedures. Passengers taking domestic flights out of Blenheim airport are not subject to security checks, and hand luggage is not scanned.

The 19-seater Jetstream planes are used on short-haul regional flights by Air New Zealand and have only curtains separating the cockpit from travelers.

New Zealand, with a population of four million people, has never been targeted by a terrorist attack.

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