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Plane lands early after bomb threat

Department of Homeland Security

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An American Airlines MD-83 jetliner on a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Boston landed in Nashville Thursday afternoon after a note was found saying a bomb or explosive was on board, a government source told CNN.

American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said the note was found in one of American Airlines Flight 306's lavatories by a flight attendant after the plane took off at 1:46 p.m. (2:46 p.m. ET).

The 129 passengers, two pilots and three flight attendants were safely evacuated after the plane landed, Wagner said.

A Department of Homeland Security official said the note claimed there was a bomb in the cargo hold. That official said no explosives had been been found while the plane was being cleaned after the incident.

After the note was found, while the plane was over northern Alabama, the pilot asked to land in Nashville, Tennessee, the official said. Air traffic controllers suggested Chattanooga but the pilot again requested Nashville and was allowed to land there.

The source said fighter jets from a combat air patrol escorted the plane down at 3:35 p.m.

But Wagner said the pilot was not aware of any escort. "I would assume our pilot would know if he was escorted by a fighter jet," he said.

Wagner said he expected the passengers to be interviewed by security officials and then taken Thursday night to Boston.

Air Force One, carrying President Bush on a trip, flew into the same Nashville airport earlier this afternoon.

Air Force Lt. Col. Rob Garza said the two F-16 Falcon fighter jets that escorted the plane to Nashville International Airport were already in the air, flying an "irregular air patrol," when the situation developed. He would not say if their patrol was related to the president's visit to Nashville.

--Producer Mike Ahlers, correspondent Jeanne Meserve and producer Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this report.

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