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25.01.2007 Sudan

Sudan plane hijacker surrenders in Chad

By Associated Press
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A Sudanese plane carrying 103 passengers and crew was hijacked Wednesday and diverted to the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, where the hijacker surrendered, officials said.

Saif Omer, Air West"s managing director, said the lone hijacker gave himself up after arriving in Chad.

The hijacker held a pistol to the pilot's head during the flight to force him to fly to Chad, Omer said.

Air West 612 took off from Khartoum, Sudan, at 8:30 a.m. for the western city of Al-Fasher when the pilot was forced to change direction to Chad, said Khartoum's airport manager, Yussuf Ibrahim.

A Chadian government official said the plane landed in the capital Wednesday morning. No further details were available. He asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the matter.

Air West, based in Khartoum, is a privately owned company, and operates domestic passenger services and international cargo charters. It is one of 95 airlines banned from landing at European airports because of its safety record.

Chad, an impoverished central African country, has suffered from years of political turmoil. Chad often accuses Sudan of supporting Chadian rebels; Sudan makes a similar accusation against Chad.

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