London, Aug 30 (Reuters): British police said today they had arrested a man on a flight from Pakistan to Canada as it refuelled at Birmingham Airport, and were conducting a detailed examination of the Airbus passenger jet.
“We were called to the airport after a routine security check of passengers by security staff. One man was arrested and will be questioned. The aircraft is now subject to a more detailed examination,” a police spokeswoman told Reuters.
She gave no further details, other than to say the plane with 192 passengers on board was on route from Islamabad to Toronto, and that none of the passengers had been due to disembark in Britain.
Brian Conway, a spokesman for Birmingham International Airport, told Reuters flight PK781 was operated by Pakistan International Airlines and was still on the ground at the airport.
“The plane is on the tarmac and the passengers are in the terminal. At some stage they will be allowed to continue their journey,” he said. Conway said security checks were carried out routinely on transit passengers, and refused to speculate on what had prompted officials to arrest the man.
The plane had been due at Birmingham at 0810 GMT but had landed late at 1030 GMT. It would normally have been expected to take off again after 90 minutes.
The arrest came less than two weeks before the first anniversary of the September 11 hijack attacks that destroyed New York’s World Trade Center and part of Washington’s Pentagon defence headquarters.
Swede in hijack bid
A 29-year-old Swedish man of Tunisian origin has been arrested on suspicion of planning to hijack a plane bound from Sweden to Britain after a gun was found in his luggage, police said today.
Britain’s foreign minister said the incident showed the “threat of international terrorism” remained. British terrorism experts have been sent to help with the investigation.
The Ryanair plane, whose passengers included people travelling to an Islamic conference in Britain, was grounded last afternoon when about to leave Vasteras airport, 100 km west of Stockholm. Sweden’s Sapo security police have flown in anti-terrorism experts from Britain to help interrogate the arrested man, a Sapo source said.
A spokeswoman for Britain’s Scotland Yard confirmed anti-terrorist officers were liasing with Swedish police.