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Gunman holds crew on passenger jet in Jamaica

A gunman was holding five crew members on a commercial jet in Jamaica after all passengers on the aircraft were released,authorities said.

Written by Reuters | Kingston |
April 20, 2009 2:36:07 pm

A gunman,described as “mentally challenged,” was holding five crew members on a commercial jet in Montego Bay,Jamaica,on Monday after all passengers on the aircraft were released,authorities said.

A Montego Bay police officer said a shot had been fired after the gunman,who had demanded to be flown to Cuba,breached security about 10 p.m. local time on Sunday (0300 GMT Monday) to force his way aboard the CanJet charter flight at Sangster International Airport.

The officer said no one had been wounded.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his national security minister,Dwight Nelson,arrived in Montego Bay early on Monday to take charge of the situation in the Caribbean nation’s prime tourist resort,Information Minister Daryl Vaz said. He said the suspect,believed to be armed with a handgun,was a Jamaican national about 20 years old and that his father was among those hoping to negotiate the release of the CanJet crew members.

Vaz said the would-be hijacker seemed to suffer from “mental challenges,” but he did not elaborate.

“Originally,his demands were to be flown to Cuba because the flight actually was going to Cuba and then back to Halifax. That really was his demand,” Vaz said in an interview with CNN.

“Thank God,there are no injuries in terms of the passengers and that the hijacking is that of a mentally challenged youngster and not anything else that will be any cause of concern in terms of an international incident,” Vaz added.

CanJet said the incident aboard Flight 918,which carried 182 passengers and crew,occurred after it made a scheduled landing in the Caribbean tourist resort en route from Halifax,Nova Scotia.

“All passengers have been safely removed from the aircraft,but CanJet crew and the armed man remain on board. Our understanding is that no harm has come to anyone remaining on board and … there has been no damage to the aircraft,” the company said in a statement on its website.

“Our priority at this time is well-being of the passengers and crew who were involved in the incident,” said the company,which operates a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft.

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