A “crazy” passenger armed with a gun and claiming to have a suicide vest was killed in a shootout with commandos after he hijacked a Dubai-bound plane.
The man opened fire as he tried to enter the cockpit of the Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane while it was in the air, forcing the pilots to make an emergency landing in Chittagong, Bangladesh.
The hijacker had the pilots at gunpoint when the plane, carrying 142 passengers from Dhaka, landed safely. The gunman remained on board with at least one crew member after the jet was evacuated.
Army commandos stormed the aircraft after the man refused to surrender during an hours-long siege and he was fatally shot as they rescued the crew member.
The gunman is said to have fired a shot on board flight BG147 and demanded to speak to the prime minister of Bangladesh as the drama unfolded on Sunday afternoon.
Security forces immediately surrounded the Boeing 737 when it landed at Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong, and passengers, including a Bangladeshi MP, fled onto the tarmac.
A photo taken from inside the terminal shows dozens of passengers standing on the plane’s wing and others on the ground.
A lone gunman and at least one crew member were on the plane as security forces tried to negotiate with the suspect, according to aviation officials.
Mahfuzul Alam, Biman’s station manager at the airport, told bdnews24.com that the plane had been hijacked. He said: “The flight has been hijacked. I cannot say anything more at the moment.”
Air Vice Marshall Nayeem Hasan told AFP: “We think he is a suspected madman. He is saying that he has a bomb, but we are not sure.”
Bangladeshi MP Mayeen Uddin Khan Badal, who was on the plane, said the hijacker fired a shot and demanded to speak to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
Mr Badal told Somoy TV: “The pilot told that this man, a Bangladeshi, fired a shot. However, everyone is safe.
“When the pilot pursued him, the hijacker said that he wanted to talk to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Now the law enforcement agencies are trying to take him into custody.”
A passenger, who wasn’t named, said they heard a gunshot when the crew tried to stop the hijacker from entering the cockpit, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
The hijacker claimed he was wearing a suicide vest, the report added.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal told bdnews24.com that the hijacker was pointing a gun at the captain’s head when the plane landed.
He said: “So far we know, an armed man pulled a gun at the pilot’s head. But all the passengers have disembarked. The pilot has also got off.”
Civil Aviation Secretary Mohibul Haque told Bangladesh’s Daily Star: “The pilot made the emergency landing.
All passengers were evacuated from the aircraft.
“Only the suspect and a cabin crew member are onboard.
“Commando units have surrounded the aircraft.”
All 142 passengers were allowed to leave the plane, the airline’s general manager, Shakil Miraj, told Reuters.
He added: “There were 142 passengers and all of them have come out from the aircraft safely.”
The jet landed in Chittagong at about 5.40pm local time after an emergency was declared, and it remained on the tarmac in the evening as it was surrounded by a rapid response team.
It was unclear how the man managed to get a gun on board the plane.Flights at Chittagong’s airport were suspended while police dealt with the incident.
Dhaka-based Biman is the national flag carrier of Bangladesh, operating flights to more than 20 countries, mostly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. It operates at least four long-haul flights a week from Dhaka to London.