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Pakistan Airlines flight diverted over British airspace

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Posted at 9:38 AM, May 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-24 10:27:57-04

LONDON (CNN) — Police arrested two men Friday on suspicion of endangering an aircraft after a flight from Pakistan to the United Kingdom was diverted to Stansted Airport, outside of London.

A UK fighter jet was scrambled to escort the Pakistan International Airlines flight as it was diverted from northwestern England’s Manchester Airport to Stansted.

Essex Police, which covers the area near Stansted airport, said officers had arrested the men and removed them from the plane.

Flight PK709 was coming from Lahore, Pakistan, a Manchester airport representative said.

Early indications show Friday’s diversion of the flight to London’s Stansted is not a terror-related incident, a security source in London said.

“This information may be a bomb threat but we are not sure yet, it could be a fake threat, Pakistan International Airlines spokesman Mashood Tajwar told CNN.

Zulfiqar Bijarani, of Pakistan International Airlines, told CNN the airline did not yet know what caused the diversion.

A representative for Stansted Airport said the plane was on an isolated stand away from the normal airport and police were handling the situation.

Typhoon aircraft were launched from RAF Coningsby to investigate the incident, the UK Defense Ministry said.

It’s not yet clear what caused the alert, which occurred very late in the flight.

The Boeing 777 landed at 2:10 p.m. local time (9:10 a.m. ET.)

A diversion could be the result of a threat to the plane or an incident involving a passenger who is sick or unruly, said Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transport.

CNN’s Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

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