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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Islamic Hijackers Force Plane to Oslo

GARDERMOEN, Norway - Armed Islamic militants hijacked a Russian airliner with 50 people on board Wednesday and forced it to land in Norway after a stopover in Kiev, Norwegian officials said.


At least four hijackers, with grenades and explosives, were believed to be aboard. The twin-engined aircraft, which had a crew of six, landed at Gardermoen airport north of Oslo at around 8: 15 P. M.


The hijacker's demands were unknown, but it appeared that the hijack might be linked to the signing in Washington earlier this week of an Israeli-PLO peace accord that was negotiated by Norway.


"Talks have begun" with the hijackers, a police spokesman, Per Jarle Hellevik, said shortly after the plane touched down.


Norwegian police guarded the airport, normally used only by charter flights. Fire engines and several ambulances were brought out onto the runway, and Russian-speaking Norwegian negotiators were called out to help.


"We will do everything we can to save people", said Yury Mironov, the consul at the Russian Embassy in Oslo, who rushed to Gardermoen, about 40 kilometers north of the capital, along with other Russian diplomats to offer help.


The airliner was seized on a flight from the Azerbaijani capital of Baku to the Russian city of Perm in the Ural mountains and was first forced to land in Kiev. The hijackers each had a remote control detonator linked to grenades and explosives.


"They took on a Ukrainian navigator with a knowledge of English and international flight rules", said a security officer in Kiev after the hijackers demanded to fly to Oslo.


A second security officer in Kiev said the hijackers had agreed to allow women off the aircraft when it was in the Ukraine but they had refused to go. One small child was reported to be among the passengers.


In radio conversations with officials at Kiev, the militants identified themselves as Moslem fundamentalists and initially demanded a Farsi-speaking interpreter and a crew capable of flying the short to medium haul airliner outside of what used to be the Soviet Union.


Ukrainian security sources said that two of the men were brothers, long-term Iranian residents of Azerbaijan and sympathizers of the pro-Tehran Hizbollah movement.


They said that one hijacker was posted in the cockpit, a second in the cabin and a third in a small storage area in between.


A fourth appeared when the navigator boarded the aircraft.


The Tu-134, the workhorse of Aeroflot and other airlines in the former Soviet Union, has a range of more than 3, 000 kilometers, which is well in excess of the distance between Kiev and Oslo.


Norway played a key role in negotiations leading to historic accord that were signed this week between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.


Militant Islamic groups oppose the accord.


Norway has been off international hijack routes in recent years. Several hijackers from the former Soviet Union have preferred to land in neighboring Sweden and Finland, closer to Russia.


In Tehran, the duty officer at the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that the official spokesman was unavailable for comment on the Aeroflot hijacking.


Iranian television carried reports of the incident on its main evening news bulletin, without any reference to an Iranian connection and with no comment.