US says explosion on plane was terrorism attempt

WASHINGTON Fri Dec 25, 2009 7:21pm EST

WASHINGTON Dec 25 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities believe an incident involving a small explosion aboard a Delta-Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit on Friday was an attempted act of terrorism, a White House official said.

The Transportation Security Administration said the person responsible for the incident was taken into custody and the plane, which departed from Amsterdam, had landed safely in Detroit.

"We believe this was an attempted act of terrorism," a White House official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. President Barack Obama is on vacation in Hawaii and was monitoring the situation.

CNN said some sort of "small explosive device" had detonated inside the passenger cabin, and a fire warning light had gone on. Two passengers had received minor injuries, Delta said.

The aircraft had been moved to a remote area at Detroit's airport where the plane and all baggage were being rescreened, the TSA said.

The aircraft, Northwest Airlines 253, was an Airbus 330 carrying about 278 passengers. Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) has taken over Northwest.

"Passengers may notice additional screening measures put into place to ensure the safety of the traveling public on domestic and international flights," Department of Homeland Security said a statement.

Representative Peter King, who sits on the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, said the explosive device was "fairly sophisticated," and the suspect was a 23-year-old Nigerian.

"When it did go off, he himself was seriously injured. He has third degree burns. ... It appears to be different from what we've encountered before," King told Fox News.

FILED UNDER: