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Airline Hijacking: Istanbul-to-Moscow Flight Seized With 160 Passengers On BoardAired March 15, 2001 - 8:27 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to bring you up to date on a breaking news story we've been following here on CNN. CNN has confirmed that a Russian aircraft has been hijacked after leaving Istanbul's international airport, more than 160 people on board.
Details are quite sketchy now, but we've got our Jane Arraf in Istanbul, and she joins us now on the phone with more.
Jane, what can you tell us?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Colleen, as you said, airport sources here have confirmed that that plane was hijacked after takeoff, but the destination is still unclear. There are conflicting reports as to where the two hijackers that the Anatolia news agency say hijacked the plane are requesting to head for.
One report from here says that they are requesting to land in Syria. Earlier reports said they were possibly demanding that the planes fly to Egypt and Mecca, which would certainly be an unusual hijack destination.
No confirmation yet as to what their demands are either, nor who the hijackers might be. But airports sources here are confirming that that plane, a Russian airliner, originally headed to Moscow with 162 passengers, has been hijacked -- Colleen.
MCEDWARDS: All right, Jane, how common are hijackings in this part of the world?
ARRAF: There's always a danger, particularly with rising tension in the region and rising tension in the Middle East, because hijacking is the one most high-profile thing that people can do to draw attention to whatever demands they're making.
Increased security has cut down a bit on some of the hijackings, but we did see a hijacking even in Baghdad, as you might recall, just a few months ago; a Saudi airplane that left for Saudi Arabia hijacked to Baghdad, to the surprise of the British passengers on board.
Airlines say these kinds of things are impossible to completely prevent, but certainly security in the region has been increased and people are on the lookout for all sorts of violence as well as hijackings -- Colleen. MCEDWARDS: Right, is it clear, Jane, how long the plane was in the air before it was actually hijacked?
ARRAF: It's not clear yet. As you mentioned, there are very few details, very sketchy details, but we're expecting more to come in very shortly.
MCEDWARDS: OK, Jane, we'll get back to you again.
CNN's Jane Arraf in Istanbul confirming for us that this plane has been hijacked, more than 160 people on board.
As Jane mentioned, there's no confirmation right now on exactly where its headed. We've heard Syria, we've heard Cairo. We're going to get confirmation on that from officials as soon as we can. No confirmation on who has done this or what, if any, demands have been made at this point.
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