Garuda Indonesia airlines
A man was removed from Garuda Indonesia airlines flight after he said he was carrying a bomb in his bag - File photoReuters

A passenger was removed from a Garuda Indonesia flight on Tuesday (11 July) after a flight attendant heard him saying he was carrying a bomb in his bag.

The man, identified only by his initials WH, apologised and told the airlines staff that he was joking.

The incident took place just before the Garuda flight was scheduled to take off from Timika Airport in Papua at around 2:30pm local time (2.30am BST). The plane was headed to Denpasar, the capital of Bali province.

WH made the "bomb" comment to a fellow passenger named Parlindungan Tambunan after the latter asked him why his bag appeared so heavy. Without realising the sensitivity of the statement, WH spontaneously replied that he was carrying "a bomb".

Parlindungan was not shocked by the response as he gathered WH was joking, but the flight attendant who overheard the conversation alerted the ground staff, who then escorted WH off the plane. His bag was also taken away for investigation, the Jakarta Post reported. Parlindungan was also reportedly taken with WH.

Following inspection, police did not find any explosive material in WH's bag, but the duo were taken to a police station outside the airport for further interrogation.

"WH apologised but officers insisted on taking him and his bag into the airport police office for a bag check," Papua Police spokesman Senior Commander A M Kamal told local media.

He added: "We hope flight passengers refrain from saying things that can disrupt flights."

Airport security across the world has been tightened in the past few years after a series of terrorist incidents targeting airports and planes.

Indonesia, which has foiled four to five terrorist attacks plotted by Isis supporters and local Isis-linked militant groups in the past year, has also beefed up security and vigilance at all vulnerable places throughout the country.

Indonesian police have detained several Isis suspects in raids conducted in many parts of the country. The latest arrest was made in capital Jakarta where a suspected Isis supporter had sent a threatening letter to police. The man had reportedly threatened that he would turn Jakarta into the Philippines' Marawi city which is currently infested by Isis-linked Maute group and Abu Sayyaf.