Two Chinese gunmen wielding fake grenades hijacked a Chinese airliner on a domestic flight with 118 people aboard today, forcing it to veer toward Taiwan where jet fighters escorted it to a military airport, military sources and news reports said.
The Boeing 737 owned by China’s national carrier, Civil Aviation Administration of China, left Amoy, a Chinese offshore island across the Formosa Strait from Taiwan, at 7:27 p.m. en route to Canton, 300 miles to the southwest.
Two Chinese men with handguns and fake grenades forced the pilot to head toward Taiwan, where the aircraft was intercepted by Taiwanese jet fighters, the state-run Taiwan Television Co. said.
‘To Seek Freedom’
The two men, identified as Chang Ching-kuo, 27, of Shantung province and Lung Kwei-yun, 26, of Yunnan province, hijacked the plane shortly after it took off and demanded to fly to Taiwan because they wanted “to seek freedom,” a military source said.
Military sources said the two F-104 jets, learning of the situation aboard the aircraft, escorted it to the military Ching Chuan Kang Airport in Taichung in central Taiwan, where the aircraft landed at 9:31 p.m.
When the plane landed, two men believed to be the hijackers walked out, waving a “V” for victory sign with their fingers.
The hijackers were immediately taken away by military officials for interrogation.
‘Well Taken Care Of’
The passengers and crew remained on the plane as authorities arranged hotel accommodations for them, and a military source said they will be “well taken care of.”
Military sources said officials spotted the plane on radar as soon as it veered off course and sent up the fighter jets, which intercepted the airliner over the Pescadores Islands in the strait.
There were no immediate reports of any injuries aboard the aircraft, which carried 107 passengers and 11 crew members.