August 24, 2006

U.S. plane expected in India without arrested 12

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A U.S. airline flight that turned
back to Amsterdam on its way to India because of security
worries is expected to finally reach Mumbai late on Thursday
without 12 arrested passengers, officials said.

Dutch police arrested 12 passengers who had been behaving
suspiciously on a Northwest Airlines plane bound for India's
financial hub on Wednesday after the aircraft was diverted to
Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

The flight turned back after the crew reported suspicious
behavior and witnesses said the 12 people were not following
airline security rules and were exchanging mobile phones which
had made other passengers uneasy.

"The flight is now scheduled to arrive in Mumbai at 8:30
p.m.," a Northwest official in India told Reuters.

"There were 149 passengers on the plane but we expect it
will arrive minus the 12 arrested people," said the official,
who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The airline official, as well as security agencies in
Mumbai and New Delhi, said they had no information about the
nationalities of the 12 people or the security concerns that
caused the flight to turn back from German airspace.

An Indian foreign ministry official said New Delhi was in
touch with Dutch authorities and was awaiting more information.

"There could have been some confusion. There is not much we
can do from here in any case, and we have not been informed
officially about anything," said K.P. Raghuvanshi, chief of
Mumbai's anti-terrorism squad.

Dutch police can hold suspects for three days without
charge, extended by another three days in special
circumstances, Dutch news agency ANP said on Wednesday.

A Dutch police spokesman said the arrested people would be
questioned but refused to say if a terrorist plot could be
ruled out.

Security has been increased at airports worldwide in the
last two weeks after British police said they had foiled a plot
by British Muslims to blow up planes in the mid-Atlantic using
liquid explosives disguised as drinks.

Mumbai has also been on a high terror alert after the July
11 commuter train bombings that killed 186 people. Earlier this
week, police said they had foiled another possible attack in
the city after they shot dead a suspected Pakistani national.

(Additional reporting by Krittivas Mukherjee in Mumbai)