Passengers, Crew Foil Attempted Hijacking Of Alitalia Flight

Timely intervention by passengers and crew on board an Alitalia flight from Paris to Rome has foiled an attempt to hijack the aircraft to Libya by a Kazakh man, officials said late Sunday.

According to officials, the passengers and crew on board Alitalia flight AZ329 overpowered the Kazakh man after he held a small knife to the throat of a female flight attendant and demanded that the flight be diverted to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Soon after the Kazakh man was overpowered, he was given a sedative by a doctor on board the flight to keep him quiet until the plane landed at Rome's Fiumicino airport. The female flight attendant was reported to be slightly injured in the incident.

The Kazakh man, who has since been identified as Valery Tolmachev, was handed over to the police soon after the aircraft landed in Rome. Italian police authorities said later that Tolmachev, 48, is a member of the Kazakh delegation at the UNESCO in Paris and added that his motive is not yet clear.

Alitalia confirmed later that the plane landed safely at the Fiumicino airport in Rome without further incidents. The airline stressed that none of the 131 people on board the flight, except for the female flight attendant targeted by the hijacker, were injured during the attempted hijacking.

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