Friday a Pakistan International Airlines flight, which was to land at London’s busy Manchester Airport, was diverted to isolated London Stansted Airport. British Typhoon aircraft had been dispatched to force the aircraft to change its destination, averting an attempt by terrorists to commandeer the plane.
At first, it was not believed that the incident was terror-related, but the investigation is just beginning.
The flight originated in Lahore, the capital of the Province of Punjab. There were more than 300 passengers on board.
A passenger by the name of Nauman Rizvi told Pakistan’s GEO TV that two men were “edging” their way towards the cockpit door. The flight crew told him that there was a terrorist attempt, and the pilot had sounded an alarm.
He said that after the plane landed, law enforcement officers rushed aboard the aircraft and handcuffed the two individuals.
Essex Police said they were notified at 1:20 p.m. local time (8:20 a.m. EDT) that a threat had been made to an aircraft. The force said that after the Boeing 777 landed at 2:15 p.m., armed officers entered it and arrested two British nationals, aged 30 and 41.
Great Britain has been on an escalated level of alert after the brutal murder of member of the army just two days ago.
The suspects were taken to the local police station where they will be thoroughly interrogated. The plane is receiving a meticulous forensic examination before it leaves the ground again.
“This incident is being treated as a criminal offence,” said one of the officers. His choice of words brings into question whether this was a terrorist incident, or something else.
Later Friday afternoon, passengers were being interviewed by the police.
PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar said the airline had been unable to contact the pilot of the flight despite repeated attempts. He said 297 passengers and 11 crew members were on the plane.
The Guardian Express