Russian Aeroflot flight diverted after suspected hijacking, demand for flight be diverted to Afghanistan

A Russian airline flight to Moscow was forced to divert to another airport shortly after take-off after a suspected hijacking on Tuesday, according to officials.

Aeroflot flight US151 landed in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk after an unnamed man on the flight ordered the crew to divert the plane to Afghanistan, according to the National Anti-Terrorism Committee.

The aircraft, a Boeing 737-800, was bound from the Siberian city of Surgut to Moscow and carrying 68 passengers and seven crew members at the time.

A passenger on board the flight said the man was armed, REN TV reported.

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The plane took off around 12:55 p.m. local time before sharply changing its route and diverting. At least 10 police squads were dispatched to the airport to meet the plane as it landed as ambulances are also in the area on standby.

The plane landed in the city of Khanty-Mansiysk about 143 miles to the west of Surgurt after the airline's crew convinced the man to sit down for refueling, according to Russia's RIA.

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Russian media released a photo of the would-be hijacker, who REN TV identified as Pavel Shapovalov. The television station reported that Shapovalov has previously been convicted for robbery, theft, and sale of heroin.

A law enforcement official told the TASS news agency that according to preliminary information, the man was drunk during the incident.

REN-TV also posted a photo showing the man being detained by authorities on board the aircraft.

Russia’s National Anti-terrorist Committee Spokesman Andrei Przhezdomsky told the Rossiya-24 television channel that the plane’s pilot took the only right decision to land after the man demanded to change course.

"According to reports, a plane flying from Surgut to Moscow changed its course at the demand of one of the passengers," he told the television station. "The pilot made the only right decision to land at the nearest airport, in Khanty-Mansyisk."

A criminal case has now been opened against the man for "hijacking an aircraft involving the threat of violence," according to REN TV.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.