Phone alert grounds Mumbai flight to Dubai

MUMBAI: A passenger flight from Mumbai to Dubai was halted minutes before take-off today when airline staff received a telephone call claiming there were “terrorists” on board, authorities said.

The plane was grounded after the anonymous caller alleged that two passengers were members of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a Mumbai International Airport spokesman said.

The Emirates aircraft, which had 356 people on board, was taken to an isolated bay where passengers disembarked and security personnel detained two people for questioning.

“The flight was on the taxi-way when the call came through which said that there were LeT suspects on board,” the spokesman told AFP.

He said the rest of the passengers had reboarded and the delayed flight would take off shortly.

Last month, India increased airport security and warned its domestic airlines about a possible hijack attempt after a tip-off from Western intelligence services.

The alert warned that flights could be targeted by Islamist groups aligned to Al-Qaeda or Lashkar-e-Taiba. New Delhi blames Lashkar-e-Taiba for plotting and carrying out the November 2008 Mumbai siege in which 10 gunmen targeted multiple locations in India’s financial and entertainment capital, killing 166 people.

Last August an Indian businessman running behind schedule triggered a bomb scare

at Delhi airport in a

desperate attempt to catch his flight.