3 terrorists, 33 hostages, a hijacked plane and a special force rescue mission that lasted less than 2 mins.
On 25 May 1998, a Pakistan International Airlines Fokker F27 was hijacked shortly after it took off from Gwadar International Airport, by three armed men. The aircraft with carried 33 passengers and 5 crew members aboard was held hostage by the armed men who demanded the place fly into India, after long hours of negotiations Pakistani special force SSG stormed the aircraft.
The incident began while the aircraft was flying, carrying 33 passengers with 5 crew members onboard bound towards Karachi. Shortly after it left Gwadar airport (Inside Pakistan) Flight PK-554, was hijacked by 3 men armed with small arms and explosives at 5:35pm on Sunday. The hijackers forced the pilot to enter India and demanded they reach new Delhi, but the pilot refused to head towards Delhi on the pretext of fuel shortage. Meanwhile the Pakistan Air Force had traced the pilot’s communication and dispatched F-16s which intercepted the aircraft and forced to land in Hyderabad airport.
Deceiving the Hijackers
Before landing in Hyderabad airport (Pakistan) the Hijackers were becoming more and more violent, so the pilots tried to calm them down trying to give the impression that they were already in India. According to the sources, the pilot was in his senses and his message addressed Hyderabad Airport as Bhuj airport (Bhuki is in India). His decision led the hijackers to believe that they were in Bhuj, India, as he had heard the hijackers talking about maps of Bhuj. The airport general manager had gotten the gist of situation and responded by saying that he was at Bhuj and waiting for the flight. This communication assured the hijackers that the plane had crossed into India. Meanwhile entire airport was cordoned off by Pakistan Rangers and Police personnel.
The plane landed at Hyderabad late at night just after the airport manager switched off the lights and markings of Hyderabad. Later in the night, the hijackers released a flight engineer to talk with the authorities to refuel the plane for onward journey to New Delhi, India, in addition also demanded food and water ( They threatened to kill the hostages and them blow up the plane with the explosives jackets ). The negotiations lasted a few hours after which an agreement was made on delivery of food and water. Two senior officers of Pakistan police volunteered to deliver it and according to sources wearing Indian uniform safely reached the plane unarmed.
While delivering the goods the two police officers spoke in Hindi ( India’s national language) to each other which further falsely convinced the hijackers that the officers are Indian nationals, as the hijackers had thought that they were in an Indian airport. The police officers, in order to buy time and earn good will, told the hijackers that the Pakistani embassy people had been summoned to talk to them but, at the same time insisted that they should not hurt the passengers and let the women and children go.
While the officers stayed in the plane to distract the hijackers, Special forces SSG Commandos closed in on the plane.
The two police officers on board negotiating (In Hindi language) with the hijackers had managed to convince them to let the women and children off guaranteeing the hijackers safety and fuel. Just as the women and children got off the plane the SSG operative got into positions ready to start infiltration mission code-named “Commando Operation”.
The SSG operatives stormed the plane, penetrating the plane from the front and the back doors of the aircraft. As the SSG stormed the two officers inside shouted at hijackers to distract them. Shocked by this one of the hijackers tried to shoot them but missed. Another hijacker attempted to shoot at the SOF but was quickly detained before he could shoot. The last remaining hijacker attempted to blow himself up by hitting the explosives but was also detained by another commando that had infiltrated from the front. The whole operation lasted less than two minutes and all three hijackers were arrested by the SSG later handed over to Police. Just as the last hijacker was detained on the ground during the operation one of the police officers from before walked up to him smiling and said “Welcome to Pakistan”.
*All 3 terrorists detained alive.
* No Hostage casualties.
Picture is for Reference Only