Britain Scrambles Jets to Stop Plane, Arrest Men

May 24, 2013 Updated: May 24, 2013

Britain scrambles jets: Jets were sent up to escort a passenger plane that was traveling from Pakistan to the United Kingdom, and divert it to a nearby airport in Stansted.

Two men were taken into custody, although no details have emerged about what happened. A British security official said the situation involving the Pakistan International Airlines flight, which carried more than 300 people, did not appear to be terror-related, but that police were still investigating. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.

Passenger Nauman Rizvi told Pakistan’s GEO TV that two men who had tried to move toward the cockpit during the flight were handcuffed and arrested once the plane landed. Rizvi said that after the men were taken away, the flight crew told passengers there had been a terrorist threat and that the pilot had raised an alarm.

PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar said the airline had been unable to contact the pilot of the flight despite repeated attempts. He said 297 passengers and 11 crew members were on the plane. Tajwar added that the control tower at Manchester airport received a call about a threat aboard the plane and the tower advised the pilot to divert to Stansted.

A passenger told BBC that the pilot informed them there had been threats. 

“We were about half-an-hour away from landing in Manchester and we saw that the plane was taking different actions,” the man said. “We did not know anything about it other than the pilots announced that they have landed at Stansted. And we landed, safely. Then he announced that he had a threat from someone, which was why he had landed the plane.”

Another passenger told Sky News that the cabin crew said two men had tried to get into the cockpit, making multiple attempts.

An airport spokesman told BBC that the two arrested men will be interviewed by police. “At some point police and the airline will arrange for their onward transportation to Manchester,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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