A retired French police officer traveling on Air France was detained Monday after a fake bomb hidden in a lavatory forced his Paris-bound flight to make an emergency landing in Kenya, according to prosecutors.
Air France staff chose to land the Boeing 777 at the nearest airport, in the Kenyan port city of Mombasa, after a passenger found the object in the toilets late on Saturday and alerted crew, CEO Frederic Gagey said.
Kenyan Interior Minister Joseph Nkaissery told reporters at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport on Sunday that the authorities were in touch with Mauritius to find out how passengers had been screened.
Passengers who were onboard an Air France Boeing 777 aircraft that made an emergency landing are seen on a bus as they are escorted to hotels from Moi International Airport in Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa on Sunday.
A device discovered in the bathroom of an Air France flight was a fake bomb, the airline’s chief executive officer has revealed. A Kenyan police official said six passengers were questioned Sunday, including the person who informed the crew about the device.
“The plane just went down slowly, slowly, slowly, so we just realised probably something was wrong”, said Benoit Lucchini, from Paris.
He said the “deduction” was that the item had been placed in a toilet cupboard by one of the passengers and said the bomb scare appeared to be the result of a “bad joke”.
The 459 passengers and 14 crew on board flight AF463 were evacuated using the emergency slides after the plane landed at 2136 GMT.
“All the information available to us at the moment indicates that the object was not capable of creating an explosion or damaging a plane”, Gagey told a news conference in the French capital. “We did not know what was happening”.
Frederic Gagey, the head of the airline, said the device was made of cardboard, paper and a household timer.
The arrest is part of an investigation prompted by a lawsuit filed by Air France on Monday for reckless endangerment.
France is on high alert after militant attacks in Paris in November left 130 people dead, and is one of many countries taking extra security precautions. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for those attacks and for downing a plane October 31 carrying Russian tourists out of Egypt, killing all 224 people on board.
“I thought the plane had problems – not that it had anything to do with terrorism. So now they say that they found a bomb, and so very exhausted, very hard”. “A few passengers are being interrogated”, he added.
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