We perish because we know not… #TLENews
ISIL militants may have been behind the attack on a FlyDubai passenger jet as is made its approach to land at the Iraqi capital’s airport, according to a defence analyst.
Now there are fears the incident could spark copycat attacks on other passenger jets elsewhere in the country.
The attack on the aircraft, which was carrying 154 passengers, took pace on Monday and is believed to have involved small arms fire.
It resulted in the fuselage of the jet being damaged, although no one on-board was seriously injured or required medical attention.
Following the attack, FlyDubai, Emirates and Etihad immediately cancelled their scheduled travel between the UAE and Baghdad after the General Civil Aviation Authority banned flights to the city.
Theodore Karasik, a defence expert at Risk Insurance Management, in Dubai, believes it could take weeks before Baghdad International Airport is secure enough for the airlines to return.
“We don’t know for sure but the attack may be linked to Daesh [Isil] or their sympathisers in some way,” he said.
“In Iraq there is ongoing fighting between Daesh [Isil] and Iraqi forces and, although there have been reports that they have been driven out of Kobani, this attack may be a response to that.”
Isil had a presence in the Iraqi capital although it was also possible that the shots were fired by someone unrelated to the terror group, he said.
“It is deeply worrying that someone could get close enough to the airport to be able to hit a passenger jet with small arms fire,” said Mr Karasik.
“I think it could take weeks before the situation there is secure enough to allow for passenger jets to return.
“The big concern for me is that this attack could encourage copycats to try their luck at shooting down an airliner.”
He said the incident also raised concerns about the safety of other airports in Iraq.
“We know that there have been attacks on civilian aircraft elsewhere in the region, like Libya, so this might lead to further attacks elsewhere [in Iraq],” he said.
Earlier, FlyDubai said in a statement: “After landing at Baghdad International Airport on 26 January, damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered on FlyDubai flight FZ 215.
“All the passengers disembarked normally through the jet bridge. No medical attention was required at the airport.”
The passengers scheduled for the return flight were placed on a replacement aircraft and an investigation is currently under way to establish what happened.
An Emirates Airline spokesman said flights had been stopped due to operational and safety concerns.
“This took effect from 26 January until further notice,” he said.
However, the airline’s other services to Iraq, in Erbil and Basra, continue as normal, added the spokesman.
“We remain committed to our customers in Iraq and hope to resume services to Baghdad as soon as operational conditions allow us to do so,” he said.
The airline is contacting affected customers to help them make alternative arrangements for travel.
Etihad Airways said it was complying with a General Civil Aviation Authority ban on operation to and from Baghdad on security grounds.
Flights between the Iraqi capital are suspended with immediate affect, it said.
“The safety of our customers and employees is always our first priority,” said Etihad in a statement.
“We will continue to work closely with the authorities and monitor the security situation before recommencing scheduled services to Baghdad.”
Customers are being offered refunds.