Police in Spain arrest 3 for alarming call causing airliner to return to Madrid

Two men and a woman have been arrested in central Spain on suspicion they caused an airliner that had taken off from Madrid's airport to turn back, police said in a statement Saturday.

The incident occurred Dec. 14 when Spain's airport authority received a call with a recorded voice threatening a flight bound for Sao Paulo, Brazil from Barajas using phrases including "today people will die" in Spanish and "Allah is great" in Arabic, the statement said.

On board were 315 passengers and 16 crew.

The plane was escorted back to the airport by Spanish air force fighters.

A runway was closed as passengers and cargo were inspected, but police found no explosives and the incident was declared a false alarm.

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The call was traced to a phone booth in a town near Cuenca and detectives determined that the suspects were linked to a passenger on the flight who was being extradited from Europe to her country of origin, the statement said.

The passenger had been refused entry into Schengen territory because of a prohibition order issued by Switzerland, the statement said.

The suspects were in custody Saturday in a jail in the city of Tarrancon, midway between Madrid and Cuenca, pending an appearance before an investigating magistrate, the statement said.

Authorities might seek to recover the cost of the airport security operation that exceeded 200,000 euros ($228,000), the statement said.

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