An EgyptAir passenger plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked yesterday. The plane was forced to land in Cyprus. It was then rerouted to Larnaca airport in Cyprus, The Guardian reports.
Flight MS181 was carrying 81 passengers at the time of the hijacking. According to a senior Alexandria airport official, the flight included among its passengers eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, one Italian and 30 Egyptians.
The hijacker reportedly told the pilot that he was wearing an explosives belt. He threatened to detonate it. “The pilot said that a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca,” the Egyptian civil aviation ministry said in a statement, reports BBC News. But airport officials later confirmed that the belt was fake.
According to the latest report, all passengers have been released. The hijacker who has been identified as, Seif Eldin Mustafa wished to contact his ex-wife, Marina Parashkou. Marina lives in Cyprus. Reports also state that Mustafa might be seeking asylum in Cyprus, although this has not been confirmed yet. Mustafa has been arrested so far.
Cyprus president, Nikos Anastasiades has ruled out terrorism and confirmed that personal motive was the reason behind the hijack. “It’s all to do with a woman,” said the Cypriot president. “We are doing everything to release the hostages.”
Mustafa’s ex-wife was reportedly brought to the airport to make negotiations.
The plane was hijacked 30 minutes into the flight. Cyprus police said that the control tower was contacted at 8:30 am (05:30 am GMT). The plane was then given permission to land at 8:50 am. Meanwhile, Larnaca airport was locked down and scheduled flights were diverted to Cyprus’ second international airport at Paphos.
The latest hijacking incident has brought to light the growing concern of security fears in airports around the world. Recently, two explosions occurred at the Brussels airport on March 22 sending shock waves across the world. The ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
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