Retired police officer held over fake bomb on plane

Air France flight was forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya. Picture: AFP/Getty
Air France flight was forced to land in Mombasa, Kenya. Picture: AFP/Getty
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A retired French policeman travelling on Air France has been detained after a fake bomb hidden in a toilet forced his Paris-bound flight to make an emergency landing in ­Kenya.

The hoax – the fourth to hit Air France in recent weeks – came amid heightened concerns about extremist violence and has added to passengers’ fears during the Christmas holiday season.

The man in custody is a former police officer detained upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport on Monday, said the prosecutor’s office in the Paris suburb of Bobigny.

On Sunday, the Air France flight made an emergency landing in Mombasa after the discovery of the fake explosive rigged with cardboard, sheets of paper and a household timer. All 459 passengers and 14 crew on the flight, from the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to Paris, were evacuated.

It is not clear whether the suspect had also been questioned in Kenya. A Kenyan police official said six passengers were questioned, including the person who informed the crew about the device.

The arrest is part of an investigation prompted by a lawsuit filed by Air France yesterday for reckless endangerment. The lawsuit does not name a perpetrator but leaves it to investigators to determine who might be sent to trial.

France has been in a state of emergency since terrorists killed 130 people on 13 November in Paris. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks and for downing a plane carrying Russians out of Egypt in October.