- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 19, 2007

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Two men hijacked a Turkish passenger plane bound for Istanbul yesterday, holding several people hostage for more than four hours before surrendering, officials said.

Six crew members and 136 passengers were on board the Atlasjet flight from Ercan airport in northern Cyprus when the men, claiming to have a bomb, demanded the plane be diverted to Iran, authorities said.

Pilots managed to land the plane at Antalya airport in southwest Turkey, and most of the passengers escaped safely when the hijackers released the women and children on board, officials said.

The hijackers held some crew members and passengers hostage for more than four hours before eventually allowing them to leave and peacefully surrendering, officials said. Private CNN-Turk television, citing police sources, said the purported bomb turned out to be modeling clay.

One of the men was Turkish and the other was thought to be a Palestinian carrying a Syrian passport, Transport Minister Osman Gunes said.

Their motives for hijacking the plane were not immediately clear. Mr. Gunes said the hijackers, identified as Mehmet Resat Ozlu and Mommen Abdul Aziz Talikh, told an official they “apologized to the Turkish nation” for seizing the plane.

The seizure was the latest in a string of hijackings of Turkish airplanes in recent years, despite increased security measures at airports.



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