World News

Bomb threat forces Russian plane to land

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A Russian plane carrying 73 passengers made an emergency landing on Sunday after an anonymous caller said there was a bomb on board, officials said.

The Yak-42 plane, en route from Moscow to the Chechen capital of Grozny, landed at an airport near the city of Volgograd, said Sergei Izvolsky, a spokesman for Russia’s federal aviation authority, Rosaviatsia.

“All of the passengers are safe,” Izvolsky told Reuters. He said authorities had evacuated the plane and were searching for explosives.

Russia is fighting an Islamist insurgency in Chechnya -- where separatist rebels have fought two wars with Moscow since the mid-1990s -- and neighboring provinces in the mainly Muslim North Caucasus.

Islamist rebels have claimed responsibility for fatal attacks on trains in recent years, but there has been no fatal attack on a passenger plane in Russia since Chechen women blew up two planes in 2004 killing around 90 people.

Grozny airport was closed between 1994 and 2007 due to security concerns.

Writing by Conor Humphries