Man held over 'bomb hoax' on Qatar-UK flight
British police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of making a hoax bomb threat aboard a Qatar Airways plane that caused it to be escorted down by a military fighter jet.
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon guided the plane, which was travelling from Doha with 282 people on board, to Manchester airport in northwest England.
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Witnesses on board said armed police entered the aircraft and escorted the suspect off with his hands on his head.
"A 47-year-old man from the northwest (of England) has been arrested on suspicion of making a bomb hoax and remains in police custody for questioning," said Chief Superintendent John O'Hare of Greater Manchester Police.
"A full search of the aircraft has now finished and nothing suspicious was found.
"The incident arose when the pilot received information about a possible device on board the plane, having been handed a note from a passenger."
Several emergency response vehicles could be seen parked around the plane.
Passenger Aurang Zeb, 60, said: "I saw all the police with guns. Lots of police everywhere.
"Kids were crying, some people looked very worried because of rumours there's a bomb on the plane."
He said two armed police officers came on board and removed the suspect passenger, adding: "They sat him up and said, 'Put your hands up'. He did not say anything."
Qatar Airways said there were 269 passengers and 13 crew aboard the Airbus A330-300 plane.
"The crew had received a threat about a possible device on board and Qatar Airways immediately took all the necessary precautions to alert British authorities," the airline said.
"The crew is now fully assisting police at the airport with their inquiries."
An RAF spokesman said: "We can confirm that Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby in their quick reaction alert role this afternoon to investigate a civilian aircraft whose pilot had requested assistance.
"The aircraft was escorted to Manchester where it landed safely."
Passenger Matthew Cox, 24, from nearby Chester, said: "There was a general kind of nervousness but there was no full-scale panic once on the ground."
He said all the passengers' luggage was searched before they were allowed to leave the airport.
Manchester Airport said nine incoming flights had been diverted to other destinations, five of them to Leeds Bradford Airport, 40 miles (70 kilometres) away.
The airport soon resumed business as usual.
Defence ministry figures given to parliament in June said that fighter jets were scrambled on quick reaction alert on 17 days last year, 21 the year before and 20 in 2011.
Not every launch resulted in an interception as some incidents were resolved beforehand.
by Usman SHARIFI © 2014 AFP
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Source : AFP