The Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane on the tarmac in Chittagong (Image: Dhaka Tribune)
Bangladesh commandos on Sunday killed an armed man, who allegedly made a foiled bid to hijack a Dubai-bound flight of the state-run Biman Airlines carrying 148 passengers, the army said. The flight, en route Dubai from Dhaka via Chattogram, made an emergency landing at the Shah Amanat International Airport in the coastal city of Chattogram following the hijack bid.
Army, Navy and elite police cordoned off the plane soon after it landing. All the passengers, pilots and crew members were evacuated safely.
According to army Major General Matiur Rahman, the suspect, a Bangladeshi national identified as Mahadi, refused to surrender when asked to, forcing "the commandos to go for action (firing)", which "lasted eight minutes".
"He (hijacker) succumbed to his wounds after the military commandos captured him (with gun shots)," Rahman told a media briefing at Chattogram airport, adding that the suspect was carrying a gun.
Air force's Chattgram base commander Air Vice Marshal Mufidur Rahman, who was also present at the media briefing, said he kept the hijacker engaged in talks while special forces units prepared for the raid.
"The man repeatedly wanted to talk to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina," he said, adding that the hijacker allowed the passengers to disembark the plane during the negotiation process.
Meanwhile, in a press conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal Naim Hassan said the hijacker was equipped with a handgun and explosives.
An investigation would be carried out to determine how the man boarded the aircraft with arms and explosives, he said.
According to eyewitnesses, minutes after the Flight BG-147, which was on its way to Dubai from Dhaka via Chattogram, flew from the Chattogram Shah Amanat International Airport, it returned and made an emergency landing at 5:40 pm.
The emergency exit was opened through which the passengers disembarked immediately. The captain and the first officer of the flight also came out later, they said.
Meanwhile, the Navi Mumbai police in Maharashtra has registered an offence against the unidentified caller who had threatened to hijack an Air India aircraft and take it to Pakistan. The call had been made to a Navi Mumbai-based call centre which provides service to the national carrier Friday night.
"We have registered a case at Rabale MIDC station under IPC sections 505 (public mischief) and 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication)," said deputy commissioner of police Sudhakar Pathare on Sunday.
"We are probing the case with the help of Cyber Cell," he added.
Following the threat call, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai was put on high alert and the security there was beefed up. Though it was classified as a non-specific threat, Air India took it seriously in view of the situation in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack.
(With PTI inputs)