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French police search for missing passenger


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PARIS - French authorities are searching for a passenger who did not turn up for a scheduled Air France flight on Christmas Eve, France?s justice minister said Wednesday.


The flight was one of six Air France flights between Paris and Los Angeles on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that were canceled following security talks between U.S. and French officials.


An ABC television network report later said that European authorities were searching for a man with alleged al-Qaida links who failed to board an Air France flight on Christmas Eve.


?I confirm that we are looking for someone, but I can?t say more,? Justice Minister Dominique Perben said in an interview with RMC radio.


?What?s important when someone doesn?t take a plane is to know why he didn?t take it,? Perben added.


The ABC report cited unidentified American officials as saying the passenger had a French passport and was believed to have undergone training in Afghanistan.


The report also quoted French officials as saying that the man was feared to have a small bomb whose components might get past airport security. The report said he was ticketed for Air France flight 68 from Paris to Los Angeles on Dec. 24.


Afghan man sought

Perben declined to respond to questions about whether the suspect was a French national, had a criminal record or was on a watch list of the French counter-terrorism agency, DST.


Separately, French judicial officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said investigators were looking in France for an Afghan man, named Abdou Hai, whose name appears on a U.S. terrorism watch list.


His last name matches that of a passenger who was ticketed to board flight 68 but did not show up, the officials said. Investigators have not yet established whether the Afghan man and the absent passenger are one in the same.


In London, a Department for Transport spokesman declined to comment on whether the flight disruptions in Britain were connected to the case, saying only that ?we keep security under constant review and we share information with other organizations and countries.?


London?s Metropolitan Police said it couldn?t comment on the issue.

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