Two men hijacked a Turkish passenger plane heading from northern Cyprus to Istanbul on Saturday, holding crew members hostage for more than four hours before surrendering to authorities.
One of the hijackers was Turkish and the other was believed to be a Palestinian carrying a Syrian passport, Transport Minister Osman Gunes said.
The hijackers had asked that the plane be diverted to Iran or Syria but the pilots landed the plane at Antalya airport, near Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, said Tuncay Doganer, CEO of the private Atlas-Jet airline company.
Passengers freed from hijacked plane (Photo: AP)
Most of the passengers managed to escape from the rear exit of the plane while the hijackers were releasing the women and children from the front exit, passengers who left the aircraft told private NTV television.
NTV later showed the remaining three passengers leaving the plane, but two crew members were still on board.
Passengers said there were two hijackers on board and that they spoke Arabic between themselves. Doganer would not reveal the identity or nationality of the hijackers.
Doganer said there were 136 passengers on board when the plane left Ercan airport in Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus at 6:45 am. The plane landed at Antalya airport about an hour later.
One passenger, Erhan Erkul, told NTV television that the hijackers ran toward the cockpit shortly after takeoff, tried to break down the door but failed. “They claimed to have bombs,” Erkul said. Erkul said the hijackers were from al-Qaeda, but another passenger said the hijackers did not make any announcement about who they were.
A woman, who was not identified, said the hijackers allowed the crew to serve water to the passengers, promising that they would not hurt them.
Reuters contributed to this article