Reports: Attempted hijacking of flight in region of Sochi games

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by ABC NEWS

WHAS11.com

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 5:02 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 5:21 PM

(ABC NEWS) -- A passenger made a bomb threat aboard a plane that was scheduled to travel over the Black Sea, in the same region where the 2014 Olympic Games are beginning in Sochi, Russia, according to international and local news reports.

The Associated Press, citing a Turkish official, reported the passenger attempted to divert the plane to Sochi, but instead the plane landed at Istanbul's Sabiha Gokcen airport. Turkish television showed the plane sitting on the tarmac and for hours suspected hijacker was reportedly still on board.

By early afternoon, the governor of Istanbul announced to reporters the suspect had been subdued, according to the AP.

Russia's Interfax news agency, citing Ukrainian security officials, reported the man was simply drunk and started demanding the plane fly to Sochi. No explosives or weapons have been found, Interfax said.

U.S. security officials told ABC News they had received "preliminary" information from Turkish transportation officials in the case. A federal official briefed on the situation said it was a Ukranian passenger who wanted to take the plane to Sochi. Reports of the hijacking emerged just an hour after he start of the Sochi Olympics 2014 opening ceremony.

The Turkish government scrambled two F-16 fighters to escort the plane to Sabiha Gokcen after the attempt was made, Reuters said. Turkish media said the plane in question was a Pegasus Airline passenger plane with some 110 passengers on board.

The White House's National Security Council said it was "monitoring the situation" and is in touch with the Turkish government.

Security in Sochi has been high for months due to the threat posed to the Games by Islamic militants in the region.

Sochi lies on the Black Sea, just 300 miles away from the heartland of an Islamic militancy in the North Caucasus. Doku Umarov, the leader of the insurgents known to some as Russia's Osama bin Laden, told his followers last summer they should do what they can to disrupt the Games, which he called a "satanic dance" on the bones of their ancestors.

In the past three months, Russia has suffered three suicide bombings in southern cities attributed to the militants. In January the U.S. State Department urged its citizens traveling to Sochi to be "vigilant and exercise good judgment" during the Games because of the terror threat.

Wednesday the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sent a notice to airlines with flights to Russia that warned terrorists could attempt to smuggle explosive ingredients aboard a plane in toothpaste tubes.

ABC New's Josh Margolin and Ann Compton contributed to this report.

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