A Russian airliner bound for Moscow was hijacked in Istanbul by Chechen Muslims. A flight attendant was stabbed to death, one passenger and one hijacker died by gunfire, as Saudi Army stormed the plane on the tarmac. Seven are said to be injured. The number of hijackers is unclear at this time, but is put at between 2 and 4. Among the hijackerss is Aslambek Arsayev, "the former Chechen security minister, and his brother, Suflan. A "Chechen representative" said the reason for the hijacking WAS NOT TERRORISM. How comforting. Tell that to the passengers. Updates if and when available.
The hijacking continued over a period of 18 hours. After threatening to blow up the plane, the Saudi Army stormed it. The aircraft was a Vnukova Airlines flight and was apparently forced to fly to the airport in Medina, Saudia Arabia. If you have a few minutes after the following, take a look at this - almost an identical situation, so identical it is chilling...from March 16, 2001. This from the current hijacking:
Minutes before the plane was stormed, more than 30 members of the Saudi army's special forces unit in full battle gear, armed with semiautomatic rifles and wearing helmets and bullet proof vests, were loaded into an army bus.
About six ambulances and fire engines surrounded the plane, which was parked in an isolated area on the tarmac while Medina airport remained open to commercial flights. Two Saudi air force cargo planes were parked a few hundred meters (yards) away.
Other members of the special forces unit were huddled in tents in the services area of the airport, out of sight of the plane. Four army vehicles and four armored personnel carriers were parked behind the tents.
A passenger with bloody trousers was seen being carried away from the plane.
Topa Bilgetin Toker, general director of Turkish Civilian Aviation, said the Saudi forces stormed the plane after the pilots managed to escape from the aircraft.
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