UK-bound plane diverted on 'terror' suspicion, no expl

The flight from Slovenian capital Ljubljana to London Stansted diverted to Cologne-Bonn airport at about 6.30pm (5.30pm United Kingdom time) on Saturday.

"During the flight, other passengers had made the crew aware of the men".

German police have released three British men who were held after "terrorist content" of a conversation overheard on a London-bound plane prompted the captain to land in Cologne.

A German police spokesman said they were being investigated on suspicion they were preparing to carry out "a serious violent crime that could have jeopardised the state".

Bild newspaper quoted a spokesman for the German federal police as saying the pilot chose to land the aircraft in Cologne after passengers told airline personnel they had heard the men using words including "bomb" and "explosive".

A backpack belonging to the suspects was inspected outside the aircraft with no explosives found however, said the police.

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The pilot had diverted the flight after passengers told flight attendants "that several men were talking about terrorist activities", a police spokesman told AFP, without elaborating on the content of their discussion.

When the aircraft landed in Cologne, all 151 passengers exited the plane through emergency slides.

"The two men were questioned outside separately, then handcuffed and taken away and police wanted us off the plane quickly, so we had to use emergency slides".

Dogs were also called to search the plane for suspicious items, but no explosives were found. The remaining passengers had departed on another easyJet plane for London earlier on Sunday.

A Cologne police spokesman said the men were aged 31, 38 and 48, and worked for a British company, but declined to name the firm.

All passengers were put up in a hotel for the night and they will fly back to Stansted airport Sunday.

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EasyJet said: "We thank passengers for their understanding".

All the 151 passengers were evacuated and flights were suspended for three hours.

Meanwhile, the entire flight crew and another 17 passengers were questioned in a police station.

In a statement, the airline said the captain had diverted the flight "as a precaution to enable the aircraft to go through additional security checks in Cologne".

They added: "In compliance with the local authorities guidance passengers disembarked to allow additional security checks to be performed".

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