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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 18:31 GMT 19:31 UK

World: Middle East

Hijacking latest in series

Egypt Air: Plane taken by lone hijacker

There have already been four hijacks of planes in Turkish airspace in the past two years. After the last, the authorities said airport security had been improved.

In October last year, the Turkish special forces freed passengers and crew onboard a Turkish Airlines plane after a seven-hour stand-off at Ankara Esenboga airport.

The hijacker, who was armed with a hand grenade and a gun, was shot dead. The security forces said he was a left wing militant protesting at the war with the Kurds in south-east Turkey.

In September 1998, two armed hijackers surrendered to the authorities in northern Turkey after freeing more than 70 passengers and crew unharmed.

In March 1998, a Turkish man was arrested in Ankara after trying to hijack a Boeing 727 belonging to Cyprus Turkish Airlines during a flight from northern Nicosia to Ankara.

A month earlier, another Turkish citizen took control of a Turkish Airlines flight from Adana to Ankara and forced it to land at the south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.

The incident ended without bloodshed.

In November last year, the Turkish security forces said they thwarted a plan to crash a bomb-laden hijacked plane onto the 75th National Anniversary celebrations.

Officials said a radical Islamic group was behind the plot. Twenty-four people were arrested.

All were alleged to be linked to the Anatolian Federated Islamic State - an illegal organisation based in Germany committed to the formation of a state based on Sharia principles.

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