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US marshals kill passenger

American Airlines Flight 924, a Boeing 757 sits at Gate 42 at Miami International Airport yesterday.

American Airlines Flight 924, a Boeing 757 sits at Gate 42 at Miami International Airport yesterday.

US air marshals yesterday shot and killed an American Airlines passenger who claimed to be carrying a bomb, as he tried to escape into the terminal at Miami International Airport after arriving from Colombia.

Federal officials said the 44-year-old American indicated he had a bomb in his carry-on bag during a flight from the Colombian city of Medellin, where airport security is generally considered tight.

He was confronted by two air marshals upon landing in Miami, tried to flee into the terminal along the passenger ramp, and was shot when he ignored an order to put his bag on the ground.

"The passenger then reached into his carry-on bag, at which point, consistent with air marshal training, the air marshals took the appropriate actions. Shots were fired as the team attempted to subdue the subject," said a Department of Homeland Security spokesman.

A law enforcement official said later that "no device has been located at this time."

Concourse D at Miami International Airport was briefly evacuated and closed down while police snipers, dogs and SWAT teams took up positions around American Airlines Flight 924, a Boeing 757, which arrived from Medellin at 12:16 p.m. (1716 GMT) and was due to leave for Orlando at 2:18 p.m. (1918 GMT).

The rest of the plane's 130-odd passengers were briefly sequestered for questioning but other flights in and out of Miami were not affected.

Passengers' luggage was taken off the plane and laid out in lines on the tarmac, where police dogs were led around sniffing for explosives, television images showed.

American Airlines' parent company AMR Corp. said the incident involved an air marshal who had been on the flight from Colombia but federal official declined to comment on "operational details."

The US air marshals service said it was the first time one of them had actually fired on a passenger since the programme was beefed up in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington.

The air marshals say they are held to higher standards of handgun accuracy than officers of any other federal law enforcement agency.

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