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Troops surround plane after false hijack alert

Troops surrounded a plane at Delhi's IGI airport after the pilot accidentally pressed an alarm button.
PTI | By Agence France-Presse, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 21, 2003 11:31 AM IST

A Srinagar-bound plane was surrounded by troops on Wednesday at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport after a false hijack alarm, police said.

Police said the pilot of the Indian Airlines plane accidentally pressed an alarm button.

All passengers were taken off the plane. But after the initial panic, authorities realised there was no security threat.

"By mistake or technical snag, the pilot pressed the hijack button. ATC (Air Traffic Control) was alerted. But when ATC contacted the pilot, he said everything was fine," said Sanjay Jha, a spokesman for the Ministry for Civil Aviation.

"All passengers have come out of the plane. The minister has spoken to the pilot and everything is fine," Jha said.

The Airbus 320 was on the tarmac and about to take off for Srinagar when it was surrounded by forces from the Central Industrial Security Force, which is charged with guarding sensitive sites in the country.

All flights to Srinagar are subject to tight security, with carry-on luggage prohibited and passengers undergoing frisking.

Indian airports have been heavily guarded since an Indian Airlines plane bound for New Delhi was hijacked in 1999 from Nepal's capital Kathmandu and taken to Afghanistan, then under the rule of the Taliban regime.

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