New Zealand Hijacking Raises Security Concerns

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A New Zealand newspaper reporter claims he was able to board both legs of a return trip from Christchurch to Napier with a six-inch knife and a toy gun in his carry-on baggage a day after a bizarre hijacking attempt in which two pilots and a passenger were allegedly injured by a knife-wielding Somali woman. Jonathan Marshall, of the Sunday News, said no one paid any attention to him or his bag on either flight, mostly because New Zealand does not require security checks of passengers on domestic flights on aircraft with less than 90 seats. By ironic coincidence, he was seated next to a police Armed Offenders Squad member (New Zealand for SWAT team) on the return leg and the officer studied a radio manual “while I sat drinking tea and concealing my gun and knife," he reported. New Zealand officials are dismissing the reporter’s action as a dangerous and illegal prank but the stunt is sure to bring more scrutiny on the security posture of the country’s airports in light of Friday’s incident. Ten minutes into the Air New Zealand regional flight from Blenheim, the woman, a Somali refugee who was working on a farm, allegedly slashed the Jetstream 32 captain’s hand and also threatened to blow up the plane. She remained armed and standing behind the pilots in the unsecured cabin until they landed in Christchurch. After the plane stopped, the captain wrestled her to the floor and the first officer joined in, somehow getting his foot cut in the melee. A passenger was also cut but it’s not clear at what point during the incident that occurred. The pilots said the alleged hijacker had demanded to be flown to Australia. She’s being held for psychiatric evaluation.