Three Indians on-board PIA flight diverted to Stockholm
Last Updated: Sunday, September 26, 2010, 18:54
Stockholm: Canadian police is investigating whether a phoned-in hoax caused diversion of a Pakistani jet with 273 people on-board, including three Indians, to Stockholm for several hours Saturday for fear that one of its passengers was carrying explosives.

Pakistan International Airlines said there were 255 passengers and 18 crew members on the plane. Of the passengers, 102 were Canadian nationals, 139 Pakistanis, eight US citizens, three Indians and one each from Japan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Police evacuated 273 people from the jet, and briefly detained a Canadian man, after an anonymous caller in Canada tipped-off authorities that the suspect was carrying explosives.

However, no explosives were found on the man, who was released after questioning by police, or on the Boeing 777 from Pakistan International Airlines, which had been bound from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating whether the incident was a "terrorism hoax."

"If the information is deemed to be a hoax, the person who passed along that information can be charged for public mischief," said spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gaining in Ottawa.

All passengers except the suspect were allowed back on the plane at Stockholm's Atlanta airport nine hours later.

It took off for Manchester, England, from where the passengers would continue their journey to Karachi, said Jan Lindqvist, a spokesman for airport operator Swedavia.

Swedish police described the suspect as a Canadian citizen born in 1982. Initially they said he was of Pakistani background but later said they were not sure.

A spokesman for the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines said the suspect was a 25-year-old Canadian national.

A prosecutor decided to release the man after questioning, and police were trying to help him continue his journey to Karachi either late Saturday or Sunday, police spokesman Erik Widstrand said, adding the man had cooperated with investigators.

"He was calm but irritated," Widstrand said.

The pilot asked to land the plane in Stockholm after Canadian authorities said they received a tip-off by phone the man was carrying explosives. Passengers were told there was a technical problem with the aircraft and didn't find out the real reason until they were on the ground, Widstrand said.

A SWAT team detained the suspect as he was evacuated from the aircraft along with the other passengers. An Associated Press reporter at the airport saw the passengers boarding yellow airport buses parked near the aircraft.

The tip was "called in by a woman in Canada," police operation leader Stefan Radman said, adding that Swedish police took the threat seriously.


First Published: Sunday, September 26, 2010, 18:54

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