Official: Passenger Tried to Divert Plane to Sochi

2:14 PM, Feb 7, 2014   |    comments
A fire truck is seen at Sabiha Gokcen Airport on February 7, 2014 in Istanbul. (MIRA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Jacob Resneck and Jabeen Bhatti, Special for USA TODAY

KAS, Turkey - A Turkish airliner was hijacked Friday by a passenger who claimed to have a bomb and who tried to divert the plane to Sochi, Russia, where the Winter Olympics are starting, Turkish officials said.

Pegasus airline confirmed that a flight that left Kharkiv, Ukraine, with 110 people aboard landed in Istanbul after the flight crew sent a signal indicating it was being hijacked. The plane was forced to land by an F-16 military jet at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport.

Habib Soluk, the Transport Ministry undersecretary, told NTV television that the plane landed safely and that authorities had been trying to persuade the passenger to give himself up. Turkish news channels showed anti-riot squads on all-terrain vehicles surrounding the plane.

Turkish Samanyolu Haber news channel reported that the hijacker was "neutralized" and being interrogated. It said the hijacker was a Ukrainian national.

The passenger, in seat 2F, was tricked into thinking the plane had landed in Sochi, said the news channel. The channel said the plane's pilot, Elijah Kargüll, has sent a message saying "We're fine."

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