KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Two flights operated by Pakistan's state-owned airline received bombs threats on Wednesday, and both landed safely, one in Turkey, the other in Malaysia, officials said. No bombs were found.
The first flight was headed for Manchester, England, when it was notified of the threat near the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The crew contacted the control tower in Istanbul to seek permission for the landing, state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
Authorities quickly evacuated all 378 passengers from the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft after it parked at a remote corner of the International Ataturk Airport, and bomb squads began searching the plane with sniffer dogs, Anatolia reported.
PIA spokesman Mashood Tajwar confirmed the flight received a threat and landed. All passengers were safe. A police search turned up no bomb, officials said.
Later, a second PIA flight from Islamabad to Kuala Lumpur also received a bomb threat. It landed in Kuala Lumpur and all the passengers disembarked safely, said Tajwar.
Malaysia's airports authority said the passengers were being screened and the plane was isolated in a parking area while being searched by police. No bomb was found.
It said the plane carried 164 passengers and 13 crew. Azmi Murad, senior general manager for the authority, said the Pakistani airline informed it that the warning came by email.
Tajwar gave no details on the nature of the threat or how it was delivered.
Pakistan is home to al-Qaida's top leadership. Militants who trained there have been responsible for many of the attacks and failed plots in the United States and Europe since Sept. 11, 2001, when planes hijacked by al-Qaida militants destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and crashed into the Pentagon.
The bomb threats came four days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, but there was no apparent link to Islamist militants, who typically do not alert authorities in advance.
The FBI and Homeland Security department issued warnings last weekend about al-Qaida threats to small airlines.
Associated Press writer Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur and Selcan Hacaoglu in Istanbul contributed to this report.