Two Suspects, Possible Accomplice In Custody
The hijacking of a Turkish MD-83 airliner, which began when two
hijackers attempted to take over an Atlasjet flight headed to
Istanbul, ended without bloodshed Saturday morning.
According to the Associated Press, six crew members and 136
passengers were on the flight, which departed from Ercan airport in
northern Cyprus. Once in the air, the two hijackers said they had a
bomb and demanded the plane be diverted to Iran.
After a failed attempt by the hijackers to enter the cockpit,
the Atlasjet pilots were able to land the plane at Antalya airport
in Turkey, the AP reports. Upon arrival, the hijackers released
women and children, but many others escaped. The Turkish Ministry
of Transportation said the pilots were able to evacuate through the
The hijackers held several crew members and passengers hostage
for over four hours, before finally allowing them to leave and
surrendering to authorities.
"The adventure that started early in the morning finally came to
an end," Tuncay Doganer, the chief executive of Atlasjet, told the
AP. "With the two hijackers surrendering, the incident ended with
One of the hijackers is Turkish, while the other is believed to
be a Palestinian with a Syrian passport, said Transport Minister
Motives for the hijacking are not immediately apparent. A civil
aviation official told CNN it was not clear if the hijackers had a
bomb, though they did have knives.
The two men, identified as Mehmet Resat Ozlu and Abdul Aziz
Maliki, apparently told an official they "apologized to the Turkish
nation" for seizing the plane, Gune said.
Alaaddin Yuksel, the governor of Antalya province, told the AP a
passenger suspected to have ties to the hijackers has also been
detained, and the hijackers are currently being questioned by
anti-terrorism police. During initial questioning, the two men said
they tried to break through the cockpit door, but when unsuccessful
told passengers they were members of al-Qaida and had placed
explosives on the plane, the AP reports.
Experts are examining the material the hijackers claimed was a
The hijacking is the latest in a string of plots involving
Turkish planes, despite increased security measures to prevent such