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Retired policeman held after fake bomb found on Air France plane

The plane carrying 459 passengers was flying to Paris yesterday when it had to divert to Kenya over the bomb scare.

The plane at Moi International Airport in Mombasa yesterday.
The plane at Moi International Airport in Mombasa yesterday.
Image: Associated Press

FRENCH POLICE HAVE detained a retired policeman over the discovery of a fake bomb on board an Air France flight which made an emergency landing in Kenya, a legal source said.

The 58-year-old man was taken into custody by border police upon his return to France today while his wife was also being questioned as a witness, after their flight from Mauritius to Paris was diverted to Kenya on Sunday.

The source gave no further details about the couple, including their nationalities.

A passenger alerted crew members to the device found inside a toilet cubicle yesterday on board the Boeing 777, which was carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew.

The plane landed in Mombasa where passengers were evacuated using emergency slides before navy and police bomb experts were called in to examine the suspicious item.

Kenya Air France The Air France jet liner in Mombasa yesterday. Source: Edwin Kana

The object, made up of cardboard, paper and a kitchen timer, was found to pose no danger to the aircraft or its passengers, Air France chief executive Frederic Gagey said.

He said the “deduction” was that the item had been placed in a toilet cupboard by one of the passengers and said the bomb scare appeared to be the result of a “bad joke”.

Several passengers were questioned in Mombasa before a plane was sent to return all those on board to France.

What happens next 

An Air France spokesman said the airline had taken legal action after the discovery of the suspicious object.

The airline “filed a legal complaint against unknown persons for endangering the life of others,” the spokesman said.

France is on high alert after jihadist attacks in Paris in November left 130 people dead, and is one of many countries taking extra security precautions.

Airlines are especially jittery after Islamic State jihadists who claimed the Paris attacks also said they were responsible for downing a Russian jet in Egypt in October after smuggling a bomb onto the plane, killing all 224 people on board.

Bomb scares

Gagey said there had been three bomb scares on Air France planes in the United States in the past 15 days.

He added that the object was found “in a small cupboard behind the mirror” in the toilet.

He said the bits of cardboard and paper and what “appeared to be a kitchen timer” were not items normally found on board.

Gagey said crew members had also indicated that in their routine check of the plane before the flight, the cupboard had been empty.

- © AFP, 2015

Previously: ‘Fake bomb’ causes Paris-bound Air France jet to make emergency landing > 

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