The scene as Associated Press photographer Hussein Malla observes as passengers and crew aboard a Turkish Airlines jetliner subdue a man who started screaming a few minutes after takeoff from Istanbul. Turkey, Friday June 14, 2019.  The unidentified man began smashing at an oxygen mask box and damaged a cabin window, before pushing flight attendants aside and rushing toward the cockpit, but then calmed down and after about 2½ hours flying, the pilots announced that the plane was returning to Istanbul.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Passengers on a Turkish Airlines jetliner flying to Sudan had to subdue a man who started screaming a few minutes after takeoff and began smashing an oxygen mask box and then a cabin window before pushing flight attendants aside and rushing toward the cockpit.

Associated Press photographer Hussein Malla was on the flight Friday and says several passengers stopped the man in the Boeing 737-900's business class section. Flight attendants calmed the man down after about 15 minutes and he was taken back to a seat as the plane continued toward Khartoum. Flight attendants said the man was complaining about not being able to breathe.

After about 2½ hours, the pilots announced the plane was returning to Istanbul. A few minutes later, the man suddenly stood up and headed toward the front of the plane, where others grabbed him and tried to shackle him with plastic restraints provided by flight attendants but he resisted.

Passengers were yelling in fear and children were crying.

The plane landed back in Istanbul about three hours after it took off and police escorted the man off. As he departed, he shook hands with some passengers and kissed some children.

A Turkish Airlines official on Saturday confirmed Malla's account, saying a 35-year-old Sudanese man on Flight TK680 from Istanbul to Khartoum displayed aggressive behavior, causing damage to the plane and physically and verbally harming other passengers.

He said the airline was forced to apply "inadmissible passenger" procedures to prevent further harm to passengers and ensure flight safety, which meant that the plane was diverted back to Istanbul and had to circle in the air to reduce fuel before landing.

It was not clear if the man, who was in police custody, was psychologically disturbed, the official said. He spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

He said the airline will decide later whether to file a legal complaint against the passenger.

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Hussein Malla reported from Istanbul and Khartoum.

The scene observed by Associated Press photographer Hussein Malla, as an unidentified passenger confronts plane crew members aboard a Turkish Airlines jetliner while in flight from Istanbul, Turkey, Friday June 14, 2019.  The unidentified man had to be subdued when he began smashing at an oxygen mask box and damaged a cabin window, before pushing flight attendants aside and rushing toward the cockpit, but then calmed down and after about 2½ hours flying, the pilots announced that the plane was returning to Istanbul.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The scene observed by Associated Press photographer Hussein Malla as security, police and and officials remove a passenger from a Turkish Airlines jetliner after the passenger was subdued by passengers and crew following takeoff from Istanbul, Turkey, Friday June 14, 2019.  The unidentified man began smashing at an oxygen mask box and damaged a cabin window, before pushing flight attendants aside and rushing toward the cockpit, but then he calmed down and after about 2½ hours flying, the pilots announced that the plane would return to Istanbul.(AP Photo/Hussein Malla)