Practice of combining domestic, int'l flights needs to be reviewed

Attempt to hijack Biman aircraft foiled

_A Monitor Report01 Mar, 2019 | 770 Views|-+
Chattogram : The attempt to hijack a Dubai-bound flight of Biman Bangladesh Airlines at Shah Amanat Airport here on February 24 ended with the death of a young man carrying a toy gun and plastic pipes wrapped in red tapes.

Three days after the incident, on February 27, a top government official involved in the probe told the local media, "It was a toy gun, not a real one, the suspect was carrying during a plane hijack bid. There were no explosives inside the flight either."

The official also confirmed that the suspect had small pieces of plastic pipes, wrapped in red tapes, which passengers initially thought to be explosive substances.

Aviation insiders were quick to point out that Biman and other local airlines were combining domestic and international flights, which need to be reviewed, as this might have facilitated the young man to board the aircraft so easily.

The incident

Bangladesh Army said a suspected plane hijacker was killed in commando operations after he made an abortive attempt to hijack a Dubai-bound flight of Biman.

"He (hijacker) succumbed to his injuries after the military commandos captured him," Bangladesh Army's Chatto-gram Area Commander Major General Matiur Rahman told a media briefing at Shah Amanat Airport in the port city, the scene of the episode.

Replying to a question Major General Rahman said, "He appeared aggressive prompting the commandos to go for action".

Bangladesh Air Force's Chattogram base commander Air Vice Marshal Mufidur Rahman told the same briefing that he kept the hijacker, a Bangladeshi, engaged in talks before the commandos arrived.

"He wanted to talk to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and his wife and family members," he said.

The Air Force official said the hijacker allowed the passengers to disembark during the negotiation.

Unfortunately, the incident has generated confusion about the motive of the attempted hijack. There is also confusion whether he was armed with real or toy gun.

No lapse

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) said they found no airport security lapses as the slain hijacker got onboard a Dubai-bound Biman flight en-route Chattogram at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA).

"We have checked all our airport security scanning system. We didn't find any flaw (in the security system) there," Md Mahbub Ali, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism told news briefing at HSIA.

He said CCTV footages suggested that the hijacker went through proper security checks at the airport's domestic lounge ahead of getting onboard a Dubai-bound Biman aircraft as he was not found to be carrying any firearm.

The minister said investigations were expected to confirm if the said pistol being carried by the hijacker was real or a toy gun as he was eventually killed in a military commando raid in Chattogram.

Mohibul Haque, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and Air Vice Marshal Naim Hassan, Chairman, Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) also spoke at the briefing.

Haque supplemented the state minister's statement saying, "We have seen that he (suspected hijacker) was carrying a backpack which was cleared by the scanner." "No weapon was detected in his bag or his body," the secretary added.

The CAAB chief said sounds of gunshots were heard in midair while its crew reported that they saw the pistol emitting smoke "but it doesn't prove that it was a real pistol because, we are yet to find out bullet mark or shell inside the airplane".

"There are some toy guns which look like a real one that can make sound and even create smoke so before getting the investigation committee report we can't make any sweeping comment about the incident," Hassan said.

The secretary said the five-member probe committee has already started working and has to submit the investigation report to the ministry within five working days.

Case filed

It may be noted that the case filed in this connection has been handed over to Counter Terrorism (CT) unit of Chattogram Metropolitan Police soon after it was filed on February 25 night with Patenga Police Station.

Police sources said those who conducted the commando operation handed over 15 pieces of evidence, including a toy gun, to investigators.

For the interest of the aviation security in the country as well as image of Bangladesh aviation, the probe committee must find how the gun, even a toy gun, found its way inside the aircraft.

The incident has made the requirement of integrated security system urgent for the airports in the country. The practice of combined domestic and international flights must also be reviewed as it is risky from security point of view.

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