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Bid to break into cockpit foiled

SYDNEY May 29. A man stabbed two flight attendants with sharpened wooden stakes when he tried to break into the locked cockpit of a domestic Australian jetliner on Thursday, apparently wanting to hijack and crash it, the Government said.

Cabin crew and passengers overwhelmed and disarmed the man who had shouted threats. The

Transportation Minister, John Anderson, described the man as ``less than stable'' and said the attack did not appear linked to terrorism.

The plane returned to its departure city of Melbourne, where it landed safely. The Qantas attendants were hospitalised with stab wounds.

``Although it looks premeditated, it doesn't look like it was an act of terrorism,'' Mr. Anderson told a hastily arranged news conference.

He said the man ``seemed to be intent upon trying to force a nasty outcome, and if you call an attempt to, as I understand it, to crash an aircraft, you might call that a hijacking, but he was not able to do so.''

The Qantas flight had departed for the southern island of Tasmania when the man emerged from the seventh row and tried to pass the crew on his way to the cockpit, Qantas chief executive, Geoff Dixon, told reporters.

``He never got to the cockpit,'' Mr. Dixon said, adding that its doors were locked during the flight. Two passengers were also injured as they and the crew overwhelmed the man. The attacker was in custody and being interviewed by police, said Jane O'Brien, spokeswoman for the Australian Federal Police.

Anderson said the wooden weapons had gone through security checks unnoticed, calling the oversight a ``lesson about unforeseen tools being used.'' The man shouted threats as he attempted to storm the cockpit Mr. Anderson said. — AP

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