EgyptAir plane hijacked to Cyprus, most passengers freed

A hijacker claiming to have an explosive belt diverted a commercial flight and was holding seven people hostage over what appeared to be a “personal” matter involving a woman. An EgyptAir plane was hijacked while flying from the Egyptian coastal city of Alexandria to the capital, Cairo. A statement from the Egyptian aviation authority says the MS181 is an Airbus and that it has 55 passengers on board and five crew members. After the EgyptAir plane landed at Larnaca airport in Cyprus, the hijacker released all the people onboard except three passengers and the four crew members following negotiations.

“It is not something which has to do with terrorism,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said. Cypriot state media said that the motives of the hijacker appeared personal and he had asked to contact his ex-wife, who lives in Cyprus. An Egyptian presidential spokesman said that the correct name of the EgyptAir Flight 181 hijacker is Seif El Din Mustafa, an Egyptian national. Earlier the same spokesperson had named an Egyptian-American dual citizen of a different name for being responsible for the hijack. Three passengers and four crew members are still on board a hijacked EgyptAir plane that was forced to land in Cyprus, Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy Ateyya said.

Mr Ateyya said that it was not yet clear if the hijacker had explosives as claimed. “This will come as an outcome of the investigation,” he said. “The reality is that we have a hijacker on board of a plane. We are not sure whether what he has are true… But we are dealing with it as a real threat because we cannot take any risks.”

The hijacker earlier had offered to release women and children if police moved away from the aircraft, the Mediterranean island nation’s former EU commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said on Twitter.

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