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Turkish jet hijack ends peacefully

  • Story Highlights
  • Two men who hijacked a Turkish passenger jet surrender to authorities
  • Atlasjet flight bound for Istanbul was forced to make emergency landing
  • Hijackers claimed to have a bomb as the plane left Cyprus, witnesses claim
  • Four passengers, two crew members had been taken hostage
  • Next Article in World »
From CNN's Talia Kayali
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ANTALYA, Turkey (CNN) -- Two men who hijacked a Turkish passenger jet have surrendered to authorities after releasing the remaining passengers and crew they had been holding hostage.

The passenger jet was en route from Northern Cyprus to Istanbul.

The hijacking occurred earlier on Saturday when the Istanbul-bound Atlasjet Airlines flight from Cyprus was forced to make an emergency landing in southeastern Turkish city of Antalya after the hijackers claimed to have a bomb.

Most of those aboard had managed to escape soon after landing, but four passengers and two crew members had been held as hostages, local government officials said.

"The adventure that started early in the morning finally came to an end," Atlasjet CEO Tuncay Doganer told reporters. "With the two hijackers having surrendered, the incident ended with no bloodshed."

The other 132 passengers and four crew members had fled to safety from the plane's emergency exits as the hijackers were releasing children and women. TV footage showed passengers running from the plane's side and back doors. The Turkish Ministry of Transportation said the pilots escaped through the cockpit windows.

Turkish Interior Minister Osman Gunes said one of the hijackers was Turkish while the other had a Syrian passport but may have been Palestinian, Reuters reported.

A civil aviation official said it was unclear whether the hijackers did have a bomb but that they appeared to have been armed with a knife.

Witnesses said the incident started shortly after the flight had taken off from Ercan airport in Turkish-recognized Northern Cyprus when two men from the back of the plane rushed to the front and tried to break open the cockpit door.

When their attempts failed, witnesses said the men began talking to the flight attendants in a mix of Arabic and English and asked to be taken to either Iran or Syria.

Passenger Ercan Tekkan told Reuters the hijackers had said they did not want to hurt anyone.

"The plane made some maneuvers and we thought the plane was going to crash ... Then the plane landed and the pilots escaped from the cockpit while the hijackers kept kicking the cockpit door," he said.

Barkin Inan, another passenger, said the experience had been "terrifying."


"They looked anxious and were sweating. They went towards the cockpit. I shouted 'hijackers' to warn the other passengers but most of them were asleep," he said.

Antalya Governor Alaaddin Yuksel told reporters that one of the men had claimed to be a member of al Qaeda, Reuters reported. Police also arrested a passenger suspected of being linked to the hijackers, he said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Reuters contributed to this report.

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