Royal Air Force fighters intercepted a U.K.-bound Pakistan International Airlines Corp. (PIAA) jet and diverted it to London Stansted, the country’s designated counter-terrorism airport, where two people were arrested.
Flight PK709 from Lahore was due to land in Manchester, northern England, at 1:30 p.m. local time with 297 people on board, Manchester Airports Group spokesman John Greenway said. PIA said air traffic controllers ordered a diversion after being contacted by the jet’s pilots when the men quarreled with crew.
“Two men have been arrested on suspicion of endangerment of an aircraft,” police in Essex, where Stansted is located, said in a statement. The pair, aged 30 and 41, have been removed and will be interviewed by detectives, the force added.
The incident comes with Britain on high alert, two days after a soldier was killed outside an army barracks in London. Lee Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed by two knife-wielding men yelling the Islamic incantation “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” according to the BBC. They were subsequently shot by police and arrested.
Two Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes were scrambled from RAF Coningsby in eastern England to intercept the airliner, a Boeing Co. (BA) 777, and escorted it to Stansted, 35 miles north of London, before returning to base.
“The crew and the rest of the passengers are safe,” Pakistan International said in a statement in Karachi. The flight will proceed to Manchester once the plane, those on board and their baggage have undergone security checks, it added.
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