Kabul: A knife-wielding Afghan man has been arrested after he broke an emergency window mid-flight on an Ariana Afghan Airlines passenger plane, but the motives behind the incident were unclear, the Interior Ministry said yesterday.
The incident happened on Sunday on an Ariana plane flying from Kabul to the Iranian city of Mashad via the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
The man was subdued and was being questioned in Kandahar by security officials, the ministry said.
“One of the passengers had a knife and while the plane was flying mid-flight he wanted to commit a destructive action on the plane,” Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary said.
“But before that could happen, security personnel and passengers inside the plane identified the passenger and arrested this suspect … we’re questioning the man to find out what was his motive.”
Lutfullah Tasleem, deputy head for Ariana Airlines, said the passenger stood up from his seat and kicked a round window next to it.
There are conflicting reports as to whether the suspect actually had a knife on board the plane or if it was confiscated before boarding.
Soon after an Ariana Afghan Airlines flight from Kabul to the Iranian city of Mashhad took off on Sunday, the man began kicking a window and the emergency exit door, said Moeen Khan Wardak, head of the state-run airline.
“He broke the inner side of the window and tried to open the emergency exit of the plane by kicking it,” Khan said, adding that a knife had been confiscated from the man before he boarded.
Khan said the incident appeared to be an attempted “terrorist attack”.
Security guards on the plane arrested the man, who was later handed over to intelligence agents for further questioning at the airport in the southern city of Kandahar, he said.
A member of the flight crew, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the man had told security guards he had intended to get a knife aboard the plane.