A plane carrying 110 passengers from the Ukraine has landed safely in Turkey after reports of an alleged hijacking. Authorities say the passenger claimed there was a bomb placed in the baggage hold area and demanded the plane land at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The suspect is in custody.
The flight took off from Kharkov, Ukraine and made an emergency landing in Istanbul. Turkey’s Air Force Control Center received a hijacking alert and within ten minutes, two F-16 jets were sent to intercept the hijacked airliner, a Boeing 737-800.
Turkey’s Transport Ministry say the passenger stood up and shouted “Bomb!” and tried to enter the cockpit. The flight crew told the suspect that they were diverting the flight to Sochi but instead continued to Turkey.
The official opening ceremonies for the Olympic Games began on Friday, amid fears of a potential terror attack. Russia has stepped up its security with some 100,000 police, army troops, and security forces deployed in Sochi.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, told reporters that Russian security forces are working with colleagues from Europe and North America to minimize the risk of an attack.
“There is no reason to believe that the level of danger in Sochi is greater than at any other point on the planet, be it Boston, London, New York or Washington,” said Kozak.
In December, suicide bombings occurred about 400 miles east of Sochi, leaving 34 people dead. A militant group known as Dagestan, claimed responsibility for the bombings and has threatened to strike Sochi.
The Winter Games will run from February 7-23, and security experts warn that militants could strike soft targets away from the Olympic sites or even just outside of Sochi.