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Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 22:25 GMT

World: Europe

Hijacked Turkish plane at Ankara airport

Earlier this year another Turkish AIrlines plane was hijacked in Diyarbakir

A Turkish airliner on a domestic flight to the capital, Ankara, has been hijacked.

BBC's Chris Morris: "the hijacker may not know he is still on Turkish soil"
The Turkish news agency, Anatolia, says the Boeing, 737 jet, carrying 33 passengers and six crewmembers, has now landed at Ankara Esenboga airport.

Among the passengers, who are all thought to be Turkish, were 20 doctors bound for a congress in Ankara and at least one baby.

The hijacker, reportedly armed with a hand grenade and a gun, demanded that the plane be refuelled and allowed to take off for an unknown destination abroad.

A crisis committee, set up at the airport, demanded the release of the women and children aboard.

Speaking on Turkish television, the Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz, said the hijacker should adhere to that condition.

"If he accepts, they will refuel," he said.

Significant destination

[ image: The hijack occurs as Turkey celebrates its 75th anniversary]
The hijack occurs as Turkey celebrates its 75th anniversary
The plane was on a flight from the central city of Adana, near Turkey's border with Syria.

The hijacker was reported to have ordered the plane to divert to the Swiss city of Lausanne.

Instead, the pilot landed at the Turkish capital. Correspondents say the pilot apparently misled the hijacker into thinking he was landing at the Bulgarian capital of Sofia for refuelling.

The BBC correspondent in Ankara says the choice of destination by the hijacker may be significant, because Lausanne was the city in which the treaty setting up the modern Turkish republic was signed.

Turkey has been celebrating today its 75th anniversary of the foundation of the republic.

The hijacker is reported to be a left wing militant protesting about the war against Kurdish rebels in south-eastern Turkey.

This is the third time this year that a Turkish Airlines plane has been hijacked on an internal flight. On both previous occasions the crisis ended peacefully, and the hijackers found to be unarmed.

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