Suspect Arrested After Air Mauritania Flight Hijacked to Canary Islands

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A raid on a hijacked Air Mauritania passenger plane that was forced to land in the Canary Islands Thursday resulted in the arrest of a lone suspect, Spain's Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry did not release information on casualties.

The Reuters news agency earlier quoted Spanish emergency services as saying several people had been wounded by gunfire in the hijacking.

The Boeing 737-800, hijacked shortly after takeoff from Mauritania, landed at a military airport in Gran Canaria and was immediately surrounded by paramilitary Civil Guard police, who moved in and ended the standoff.

"It has been liberated," said ministry spokesman Manuel Cacho. "The hijacker has been detained."

Cacho said authorities believe only one hijacker was involved.

Spain's national news agency Efe said the suspect was a Moroccan. It said police were interrogating him to find out if anyone else on the plane may have been involved.

The Interior Ministry said the Air Mauritania passenger plane with 71 passengers and a crew of eight was hijacked after it left Nouakchott, the capital of the West African country.

The ministry said the plane was headed for Nouadhibou in the north of Mauritania but was diverted toward the Canary Islands, off the west coast of Africa.

Air Mauritania director Mohamed Ould Aoufa said an armed man demanded to go to France but after the crew refused because of a lack of fuel the plane turned toward Las Palmas in Spain's Canary Islands.

Moroccan authorities refused the hijacker's request to land in Moroccan territory, the North African kingdom's MAP news agency said. A spokesman for Morocco's Interior Ministry said he was not aware of the hijacking.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.