12 bomb calls to Etihad office keep security agencies on toesUpdated: Dec 12, 2019 23:49 IST
At least 12 back-to-back phone calls about a bomb received within half an hour at the Etihad Airways office at Delhi airport kept security agencies on their toes for more than two hours on Monday.
The caller said there was a bomb under a seat of one of the airline’s planes to Delhi. In his 12th call, police said, the man asked officials which police are coming to arrest him – Dubai police or Delhi police.
Delhi Police approached telecom service providers to get details of the number from which the calls were made.
According to the police, the first call was received at 5.04 pm from a Dubai-based mobile number on a landline number at the Etihad office in the airport’s baggage area.
“A man who was on the call told an airline employee that there was a bomb on a flight approaching Delhi. Four minutes later, around 5.08 pm, the caller dialled the airline’s number and said the flight on which the bomb was placed was approaching Delhi shortly,” said an officer from the airport who did not wish to be named.
The officer said, within minutes, the caller made another call and gave a specific detail that the bomb was under a seat. “At 5.34 pm, in his last and 12th call, the caller asked the airline staff which police would catch him,” the officer said.
A police officer investigating the incident said that at 5.38 pm, the Airport Operations Control Centre of the Delhi airport informed Delhi Police and Central Industrial Security Force (CIAF) about the reported threat.
“Following the drill, we constituted a bomb threat assessment committee (BTAC) and the identified plane was attended by CISF commandos, Delhi Police personnel and airline security staff. Passengers were stopped from de-boarding the plane and all of them were frisked again. All the luggage the passengers were carrying along with the cargo was scanned,” the police officer said.
Deputy commissioner of police (IGI Airport) Sanjay Bhatia said the entire procedure of frisking the plane and scanning all luggage took them more than two hours. “By 6.45 pm, the security check was completed and we managed to declare the threat as non-specific,” the officer said.
Bhatia said the number from which the calls were received is from Dubai. “We registered a case and following investigations, we have written to telecom service providers in India to help us identify the network and get details of the owner of the number and its call detail records,” the DCP said.
He said they directed the airline’s security staff to conduct SLPC (secondary ladder point checking) for every Etihad flight for the next 24 hours. During SLPC, passengers are frisked once again just before they board a plane.
A spokesperson from Etihad Airways said that after being thoroughly investigated by the airline’s security operations centre and airport security the threat was determined to be non-specific and incredible. “At no time was there ever any danger. The safety and security of our guests and crew is Etihad’s top priority,” the airline said.