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Flight to Pakistan diverted by bomb threat; turns out to be a hoax

Two anti-terrorist police officers secure passengers as a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 is evacuated at Stockholm Arlanda International Airport on Saturday.

Associated Press

Two anti-terrorist police officers secure passengers as a Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 is evacuated at Stockholm Arlanda International Airport on Saturday.

STOCKHOLM — Canadian police are investigating whether a phoned-in hoax caused a Pakistani plane to be diverted to Stockholm for several hours Saturday for fear that one of its passengers was carrying explosives.

Police evacuated 273 people from the jet, and briefly detained a Canadian man, after an anonymous caller in Canada tipped off authorities that the suspect was carrying explosives.

But no explosives were found on the man, who was released after questioning by police, or on the Boeing 777 from Pakistan International Airlines, which had been bound from Toronto to Karachi, Pakistan.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was investigating whether the incident was a "terrorism hoax."

"If the information is deemed to be a hoax, the person who passed along that information can be charged for public mischief," said spokeswoman Sgt. Julie Gagnon in Ottawa.

All passengers — except the suspect — were allowed back on the plane at Stockholm's Arlanda airport nine hours later.

It took off for Manchester, England, from where it would go on to Karachi, said Jan Lindqvist, a spokesman for airport operator Swedavia.

Swedish police described the suspect as a Canadian citizen born in 1982. Initially they said he was of Pakistani background but later said they were not sure. A spokesman for the state-owned Pakistan International Airlines said the man was a 25-year-old Canadian national.

A prosecutor decided to release the man after questioning, and police were trying to help him continue his journey to Karachi, police spokesman Erik Widstrand said, adding that the man had cooperated with investigators.

"He was calm but irritated," Widstrand said.

The tip was "called in by a woman in Canada," police operation leader Stefan Radman said, adding that Swedish police took the threat seriously.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokesman Sgt. Marc LaPorte said "on its face" it appears someone had an ax to grind against the man.

In Pakistan, a spokesman for state-run PIA confirmed the incident involved Flight PK782 to Karachi.

PIA said there were 255 passengers and 18 crew members on the plane. Of the passengers, 102 were Canadian nationals, 139 Pakistanis, eight U.S. citizens, three Indians and one each from Japan, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

Flight to Pakistan diverted by bomb threat; turns out to be a hoax 09/25/10 [Last modified: Saturday, September 25, 2010 9:51pm]

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