An Air France flight was forced to make an emergency landing Sunday after a ‘fake’ bomb was found on board.
Flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa. The plane was headed to Charles de Gaulle airport, where several aircraft were found defaced with Islamic graffiti in late November and early December.
A Kenyan police official, speaking with CBS News on condition of anonymity, said a passenger notified the flight crew of a possible device that looked like “a stopwatch mounted on a box.”
The plane carrying 459 passengers and 14 crew members was quickly landed without incident. Passengers applauded the fast action of the personnel.
Normal activities at Kenya’s Moi International Airport, where the plane landed, were suspended for several hours while police investigated.
Passengers on flight 463 were safely taken to local hotels.
Kenyan Airports Authority later confirmed the incident through a series of posts on social networking site Twitter. Six passengers are being questioned, including the one who reported the possible bomb.
Authorities later concluded the bomb was a fake, reports France 3 television. The network did not say how it got the information. Air France claims it still has not received any information on the device.
Confirmation that the bomb was fake was given during a press conference later Sunday afternoon. The ‘device’ turned out to be paper and a timer, reports the BBC. The device had no explosives and could not have been detected during pre-flight screenings. Passengers and crew were never at risk.
Flight 463 from Mauritius to Paris was forced to land in Kenya.
France has been under a state of emergency since the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that and the Oct. 31 crash of a Russian passenger in the Sinai desert that killed all 224 people aboard. The Pentagon, British intelligence and Moscow have all said that the crash was caused by a bomb on the plane.
Two Air France flights from the U.S. to Paris were diverted on Nov. 18 after bomb threats were received. No bombs were found on the planes from Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
Kenya itself has also dealt with a host of terrorist attacks and threats, mostly from al Shabaab, the extremist group based in neighboring Somalia.