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Russian Jet Hijacked: Hijackers Reportedly ChechensAired March 15, 2001 - 9:10 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to go back now to the top story that we had, this breaking story this hour, this story about a Russian chartered plane that's been hijacked out of Istanbul, Turkey.
We're joined now on the telephone by our Jane Arraf who is in Istanbul this morning.
Jane, what have you learned?
JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, it appears to be confirmed that that hijacking still in progress. Plane headed for Medina, one of the holy cities in Saudi Arabia. Medina, the closest airport to the Islamic holy city of Mecca.
That confirmation is from Cypriot Airport authorities. Cypriot Airport authorities saying that the plane flew over their air space. And they were informed that the plane was headed for Medina, the Saudi city. The pilot of the airliner also appears to have told the Cairo control tower that he was headed for that destination.
Here in Istanbul, the Turkish transport minister earlier said that it appeared the hijackers were Chechens. We have no independent confirmation of that.
But airport sources also say that there was a fight on board. That at least one of them was armed with a knife, and at least one person was injured in that attack.
They're also telling our Turkish affiliate, CNNTurk, that the plane during the flight dropped dramatically from 24,000 feet to 14,000 feet while the beginning -- while that hijacking was beginning.
The plane now does appear to be headed for the destination that the hijackers have demanded: Medina in Saudi Arabia -- Leon.
HARRIS: Thank you, Jane Arraf, working the story for us in Istanbul. We thank you very much.
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