Hijacked EgyptAir passenger airplane lands in Cyprus | News | DW | 29.03.2016
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Hijacked EgyptAir passenger airplane lands in Cyprus

A man has hijacked a domestic EgyptAir flight, and rerouted it to land at Larnaca airport. Cyprus' president said the incident was not related to "terrorism" after most of the passengers were released.

A domestic EgyptAir passenger plane with over 80 passengers on board on Tuesday landed at Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus, according to police and aviation authorities.

The motives for the hijacking remained unclear, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday that hijacking is "not something which has to do with terrorism."

When asked if a woman was involved following reports the hijacker told authorities to deliver a letter written in Arabic to a Cypriot woman, the president replied: "Always there is a woman involved."

"We are not sure there is a suicide belt. But we are dealing with it as a real threat," said Egypt's Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy during a press conference.

EgyptAir said following negotiations with the hijacker, all of the passengers on board were released "except the (cabin) crew and four foreigners."

"The Airbus A-320 carrying 81 passengers and flying between Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked. The pilot said a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca," said a statement from Egypt's civil aviation ministry.

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Egypt's aviation minister said the captain, co-pilot, a stewardess and three passengers remain on the plane.

Cyprus' foreign ministry identified the hijacker as Seif Eldin Mustafa in a tweet, saying: "the situation is still ongoing."

The EgyptAir aircraft was flying a domestic Alexandria-Cairo route, a flight that takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, before being hijacked.

Egypt's latest aviation crisis comes less than six months after a Russian airliner was downed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. The attack was claimed by the "Islamic State"-affiliated militant group Sinai Province.

ls/kms (dpa, Reuters, AP, AFP)

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