Friday, March 30, 2007

Hijacked Sudan Airways jet lands safely in Khartoum

Sudan AirwaysA Sudan Airways flight landed safely in Khartoum earlier today after having been hijacked by a lone man armed with a knife. The flight originated in Tripoli, Libya. News reports say that there were more than 200 passengers and crew aboard the Airbus, but no one was harmed in the incident.

According to a  report in the Washington Post, the man had asked to be flown to South Africa, but the crew convinced him to allow the plane to land in Khartoum. A Sudanese civil aviation official said that the hijacker was arrested after the aircraft landed.
"The hijacker burst into the pilot's cabin about one and a half hours from landing and told the captain he wanted to meet with the British ambassador, then he asked to meet the American ambassador and the media," Abdel Hafiz Abdel-Rahim told Reuters.

"Snipers dressed as journalists then took him into custody," he added. The plane, which was carrying 210 passengers, began its journey in Tripoli.

Police released a statement later saying the hijacker was "mentally ill" and trying to take the plane to South Africa but the pilot persuaded him to land in Khartoum.

Abdel-Rahim said the hijacker identified himself as Haloub Saeed but authorities were trying to confirm this.
An article about the hijacking, published in Business Week  identified the hijacker as Said Faloun Said, 39, a Sudanese national, and said he was traveling on a temporary travel permit.

An Al-Jazeera correspondent reported from Sudan that the hijacker originally demanded to land in Bangui, the Central African Republic capital, but was persuaded by the crew to allow the plane to land in Khartoum for refueling. Once on the ground in Khartoum, Sudanese authorities were able to take all passengers off the plane and arrest the hijacker.

The Washington Post article said that the crew even managed to land the plane on schedule at Khartoum. Bravo!!