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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Chechens Hijack Passenger Plane From Istanbul

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Two Chechens armed with knives hijacked a Russian passenger plane from Istanbul's airport, Turkey's transport minister said.

One of the crew members was injured in the takeover, Transport Minister Enis Oksuz said.

Turkish authorities have lost radio contact with the aircraft, he added.

Oksuz said that the aircraft was carrying 162 passengers and 12 crew members. There was also a baby aboard the aircraft.

NTV television said the aircraft had left Turkish airspace. Oksuz said the airplane was flying toward Syria and that its apparent destination was an Arab country. CNN-Turk reported that the aircraft has entered Egyptian airspace.

The plane, a TU-154 from Vnukovo Airlines, took off at 1:30 p.m. from Istanbul's Ataturk International airport. The two hijackers took over the plane 30 minutes later, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Russia has long accused Turkey of supporting Chechen rebels, and Chechens injured in fighting against Russian forces have been treated in Turkish hospitals. Turkey and Russia recently signed an agreement to cooperate in the battle against terrorism after Turkey reportedly promised to stop all support to the Chechens.

The overwhelming majority of Turks and Chechens are Muslims and millions of Turks trace their origin to the Caucasus.

This is the fifth hijacking from a Turkish airport since 1998. The last was in 1999, when a hijacker armed with a knife commandeered a Cairo-bound flight shortly after takeoff from Istanbul. He surrendered to German police after the plane landed in Hamburg, Germany. None of the 46 passengers on board was harmed.

In October 1998, soldiers stormed a commandeered plane in the capital Ankara and shot dead a Kurdish rebel armed with a hand grenade.