WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- The crew of an Air New Zealand Boeing 747 ended a six-hour hijacking at Fiji's Nadi Airport Tuesday by overpowering an airport worker who had explosives strapped to his body, an airline spokesman said.
The hijacker, identified as Ahmed Ali, 37, had demanded the release of the deposed Fijian prime minister, officials said.
The airline spokesman said he had received a brief telex from Suva saying the six-hour incident ended when the pilot, copilot and flight engineer rushed the hijacker and overpowered him.
The spokesman said the man had eight sticks of dynamite strapped to his body and was threatening to blow up the plane if his demands were not met.
No injuries were reported and the suspect, an ethnic Indian airport worker, was taken into custody.
Ali had taken over the aircraft and, according to government sources, he demanded the release of the deposed Fijian prime minister, Dr. Timoci Bavadra, and his 27 ministers who are being held under house arrest by rebel leader Lt. Col. Sitiveni Rabuka.
Ali also demanded to be flown to Libya, an Air New Zealand spokesman said.
New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange said he instructed military authorities to place a contingent of New Zealand's Special Air Services commados on full alert following the hijacking.
Lange said the New Zealand frigate HMNZS Wellington, now off Suva, would be moved off the city Lautoka to be closer to the airport.
The Air New Zealand Flight TE24 had stopped in Fiji for refueling for the final leg of its trip from Tokyo to Auckland.
The passengers, who were predominantly Japanese, and cabin crew of 21 were release unharmed, Lange said.
'On receipt of the news, we immediately contacted the Japanese government,' Lange told a news conference.
Lange said the hijacker, believed to be an ethnic Indian airport worker, was not carrying a gun but claimed to have dynamite strapped to his body.
'There are 105 passengers and 21 cabin crew who have been released and taken from the area, but the hijacker has refused to free two pilots and a flight engineer,' Lange said.
Rabuka overthrew the government of Fiji Thursday. Rabuka, an ethnic Fijian, said he seized power because of growing unrest following the election of a ethnic Indian coalition he feared was moving away from the previous pro-Western stance.
He said he intends to change the constitution so Indians never again will control the government of the country 2,300 miles northeast of Sydney even though they slightly outnumber ethnic Fijians.