DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A passenger flight made an emergency landing Sunday in Bangladesh after an armed man attempted to hijack the plane, and he was later killed in an exchange of gunfire with military commandos, officials said. The suspect asked to speak to the prime minister before dying from his injuries.
The flight, operated by state-run Biman Bangladesh Airlines, left the capital, Dhaka, at 4:35 p.m. heading for Dubai via Chittagong.
The pilot made the emergency landing in Chittagong about 40 minutes after takeoff, after a crew member reported “suspicious behavior” 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.
The commandos fired at the suspect after he shot at them when they asked him to surrender, army Maj. Gen. Motiur Rahman told reporters, according to ATN TV news. He said that the suspect was carrying a pistol, but did not say where the shooting took place.
The army official said the suspect, a Bangladeshi whose name has not been released, asked to speak to his wife and to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The suspect died before reaching the hospital, he said.
The suspect appeared to be “mentally imbalanced,” said Air Vice Marshal M. Naim Hassan, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority. “I am saying this because of his behavior. 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 kilometers (156 miles) southeast of Dhaka.