Bangladesh's top civil aviation officials on Monday, 25 February, said that they are probing how a "hijacker" was able to bypass airport security with a "toy pistol" and board a Dubai-bound plane, PTI reported.
An armed passenger on Sunday was allegedly carrying a toy gun at the Dubai-bound flight who threatened to blow up the plane. However, Civil Aviation Secretary Mohibul Haque said it is yet to ascertain if it was a toy gun.
In a separate press briefing, the Rapid Action Battalion identified the 25-year-old suspected hijacker as Polash Ahmed, who had married a film actress.
He was killed in the exchange of gunfire with military commandos after he shot at them when they asked him to surrender, reported AP.
The flight, operated by state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines, left capital Dhaka, at 4:35 pm, heading for Dubai via Chittagong.
Not Sure If It Was a ‘Toy Gun’
Asked how the weapon had gotten on board the plane, Civil Aviation Secretary Mohibul Haque said "We do not know whether it was a weapon. We do not know if it was a toy pistol. The full details will be available in the investigation report."
Bangladesh Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal Naim Hassan said sounds of gunshots were heard in the midair while its crew reported 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," he said.
"We are still trying to understand the situation," State Minister for Civil Aviation Mahbub Ali told reporters.
Passengers and Crew Safe
The pilot made the emergency landing in Chittagong about 40 minutes after takeoff, after a crew member reported "suspicious behaviour" by the man, said Rezaul Karim, an official with the Bangladeshi military's inter-service public affairs office.
All 143 passengers and seven crew members aboard the Boeing 737-800 were safely evacuated, Air Vice Marshal Mofidur Rahman said at a news conference broadcast live on Somoy TV.
Earlier, Army Major General Motiur Rahman had told reporters that the suspect was carrying a pistol.
‘Suspect Appeared to be Mentally Imbalanced’
Earlier, the officials said the "hijacker" appeared to have been "mentally imbalanced" and that he wanted to speak to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The suspect appeared to be "mentally imbalanced," said Air Vice Marshal M Naim Hassan, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority, as per AP. "I am saying this because of his behaviour. He wanted to talk to the prime minister."
Before the suspect was pronounced dead, Rahman had described him as a “terrorist” and said that he had been arrested and was being questioned.
Bangladeshi soldiers could be seen during the live TV broadcast taking positions inside Shah Amanat International Airport in Chittagong, 252 kilometres (156 miles) southeast of Dhaka.
(With inputs from AP and PTI)
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