- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2003

KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) A Cuban airliner carrying 29 passengers was hijacked last night and landed under U.S. military escort in Key West, U.S. authorities said.
Six hijackers took over the plane and surrendered to authorities in Key West, said FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela in Miami.
She did not know whether any of the hijackers, passengers or six crew members were hurt.
"All I have right now is that it was resolved," Miss Orihuela said.
Air Force fighter jets were sent from Homestead Air Force Base, and escorted the Douglas DC-3 to Key West International Airport, officials said.
Air-traffic controllers at Miami International Airport spotted the plane on radar about 7:45 p.m. and were unable to make voice contact, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.
The aircraft landed a little after 8 p.m., and the passengers were released about a half-hour later, Miss Bergen said.
The plane originated from the Isle of Youth, off the main island's southern coast, Miss Bergen said.
It was still on the runway more than an hour after it landed, said sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
The hijacking suspects were in FBI custody and the passengers were being interviewed by U.S. Customs Service agents, she said.
"The hijackers were separated fairly quickly from the passengers and crew. Everyone's OK," Miss Herrin said.
Civil aviation authorities reached by telephone in Havana late last night said the plane took off from Nueva Gerona, the principal city on the small Isle of Youth.
The aircraft's owner was not immediately clear.
State-owned Cubana Airlines provides passenger service between Nueva Gerona and Havana, but it uses Soviet-era Antonov An-24 planes.

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