Mongolian anti-hijacking exercise sparks panic after officials fail to give warning
By GANBAT NAMJILSANGARAV Associated Press Writer
29 November 2006
(AP) – ULAN BATOR, Mongolia-An anti-hijacking exercise on board a civilian aircraft in Mongolia's capital backfired after officials forgot to warn the pilots and passengers ahead of time, lawmakers said Wednesday.
The heavy-handed security exercise carried out by the Mongolian Central Intelligence Agency on Tuesday upset passengers and ended up being broadcast live on a local television channel.
The exercise started after a jetliner operated by MIAT, the national airline, landed after a flight from the southern part of the country and four male passengers jumped up and said the plane was being hijacked.
"These hooligans went up to pilot's cabin and tied up the pilots and threatened four passengers and kept them in the airplane. They hit one woman," said Tuvshinbayar, a sports official who was on the plane. Like many Mongolians, he goes by one name. The woman was not seriously hurt.
It was not known how many passengers were on board the aircraft when the exercise began.
"Ordinary citizens should not be intimidated due to a security exercise," said B. Munkhutya, a lawmaker from the Democratic Party.
He said security and aviation agencies did not give clear answers when asked if there was a hijacking.
"If this really was a civil defense exercise, this should not have happened. These hijackers acted violently," he said.
Another Democratic Party lawmaker, D. Baterdene, said if it was a security exercise "the passengers and pilots should have been told."
S. Jargalsaikhan, vice chairman of the Mongolian Central Intelligence Agency, defended the exercise, and told reporters that it exposed holes in security at the airport in Ulan Bator, Mongolia's capital.
"This was a preplanned test operation of the Mongolian CIA. Through this test we found out that under current conditions people with explosives and guns can enter the airport and airplanes without detection."
Dorlig, a newspaper editor who was on the flight, said MIAT should apologize to the passengers, who were kept for nearly 90 minutes without knowing the hijacking was not real.
A local television station broadcast pictures of the Russian-built Antonov AN-26 plane on the tarmac with a police van beside it.