Top Stories

EgyptAir hijacker surrenders, all on plane unharmed

STAND-OFF: Passengers being evacuated from the hijacked EgyptAir Airbus A320 at Larnaca airport, Cyprus,


    Mar 30, 2016

    EgyptAir hijacker surrenders, all on plane unharmed


    A HIJACKER, who seized an Egyptian plane and forced it to land in Cyprus yesterday, surrendered after hours of stand-off, during which he released all the people on board in batches.

    The hijacker emerged from the EgyptAir plane with his hands in the air, state TV said.

    "The hijacker has just been arrested," a Cypriot government spokesman said on Twitter, without providing further details.

    The last people to be freed were apparently the captain, a co-pilot, an air hostess, a security guard and three passengers.

    The hijacker was most likely motivated by a personal relationship, Bloomberg quoted a government official as saying.

    A police spokesman earlier said the hijacker had dropped a letter written in Arabic on the tarmac of Larnaca Airport.

    Cyprus' Sigma television reported that a Cypriot woman, believed to be his estranged lover, was later brought to the airport from her home village of Oroklini, accompanied by a young child.

    According to CNN Greece, the hijacker was Seif Eldin Mustafa, a former military officer of the Egyptian army.

    The Airbus A320 carrying 81 people, including 21 foreigners, landed at the airport in the southern coastal city of Larnaca in the morning after the hijacker diverted it from its Cairo-Alexandria route.

    Egyptian Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fathy said the hijacker was not carrying any weapons but officials took his claims to be armed with explosives at face value.

    The plane was parked on the tarmac away from the new terminal building just 200m from a beach where foreign tourists were hanging out.

    The airport, the main entry point for tourists to the resort island, was closed during the crisis and incoming flights were diverted to Paphos on the country's western edge, reported Agence France-Presse.

    Concerns were raised about security at Egyptian airports after a Russian airliner was downed on Oct 31 over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board.

    The Syria-based Islamic State in Iraq and Syria militant group claimed to have smuggled a bomb on board the plane.

    Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises, having handled several hijacked planes diverted to its airport in the last few decades.