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2 Men Arrested After Pakistani Jet Is Diverted Over U.K.

Two men were arrested and removed from a Pakistan International Airlines passenger jet Friday. It had been on its way from Lahore, Pakistan, to Manchester, England, when something that happened aboard led authorities to scramble Royal Air Force fighter jets and divert the passenger plane to London Stansted Airport.

Reuters and the BBC say the men were arrested on suspicion of "endangerment of an aircraft." Little is known, though, about what they allegedly did or what led to the decision to scramble the fighters and divert the flight.

Britain is on alert, of course, after Wednesday's brutal murder of a British soldier on a busy south London street. The men arrested for that attack were heard and recorded by witnesses saying that they had acted in retaliation for the deaths of Muslims during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Stansted airport tweets that "flights are operating as normal @STN_Airport following an earlier incident with an aircraft."

Update at 2:45 p.m. ET. Arrested Men Reportedly British Nationals:

The Telegraph quotes unnamed senior [British] defense sources as saying the men arrested were two British nationals, aged 30 and 41.

Passenger Umari Nauman told Sky News that "cabin crew informed us that basically they tried to come into the cockpit a few times."

"'Because they had been asked not to do that they got into a bit of an argument with the crew and made a few threats,' she told Sky News.

Another passenger on the flight, Mr Munsif, added: 'We were half an our from Manchester announced he was taking the plane down. We landed safely.

'He said he had some kind of threat from someone on the plane.

'Three to four people boarded and two men were removed from the plane. They were arrested and taken away in handcuffs.'"

Update at 12:30 p.m. ET. Passengers Say Threats May Have Been Made:

Passengers who were aboard the plane have told the BBC that the pilot and crew said the two men approached the cockpit and may have made threats. The BBC also reports that "a bomb disposal vehicle has arrived by the plane." That alone does not mean, of course, that a bomb was or is aboard the aircraft.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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