Dark skin: ‘Chechen terrorist’

LARNACA (AP) – An uproar on a Moscow-bound Cyprus Airways plane yesterday delayed the flight three hours and forced a change in travel plans for three Russians suspected by fellow passengers of being Chechen terrorists because of their skin tone, an airline spokesman said. The plane departed only after the three men were transferred to another flight, Cyprus Airways spokesman Tasos Angeli told The Associated Press. «The trouble started when a Russian woman told airline staff in the airport departure lounge shortly before takeoff that she suspected a fellow traveler, who was slightly dark-skinned with a closely cropped beard, was a terrorist,» Angeli said. «Once aboard, she and other Russian passengers insisted on searching the hand luggage of the bearded man and two other men, who were also slightly dark-skinned. This created an uproar on the plane and the pilot decided to ask everyone to disembark for further security checks.» The plane took off after three hours, but without the three men, who were transferred to another flight.

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