An Egyptian flight landed Cyprus this morning after it was hijacked and diverted, leading to a hostage situation at Larnaca airport on the island’s south coast.
Egypt’s civil aviation authority explained that the EgyptAir MS181 flight took off from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria and was heading to the country’s capital city Cairo with 81 passengers on board when it was seized.
The airline said all the passengers on board have been freed.
Egypt says the hijacker is an Egyptian national Seif El Din Mustafa who was able to hijack the plane after he claimed he will detonate a suicide vest he claimed to have had on.
Hinting that the country’s control tower was contacted at 8.30am (05.30am GMT) before the plane was given permission to land at 8.50am, Cyprus police explained that the hijacking appears not to be terror-related.
Cyprus authority said suspect hijacked plane over personal matter that has to do with his ex-wife.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades chuckled before he told the press that the hostage situation involved a woman.
The hijacker did not make immediate demands but it was later alleged that Egyptian negotiators and the hijacker had negotiated.
Earlier reports suggested the hijacker had demanded to see his estranged wife, who lives in Cyprus and later it was said that he wants to gain freedom for all women in Egyptian prison.
There was huge security presence in the Cyprus’ airport after the plane landed.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said foreign passengers on board the hijacked Airbus 320 included eight Americans, four Dutch, two Belgians, four Britons, one Syrian, one French and one Italian.
Several more people were also seen running out of the plane, with one spotted moments later leaving through the plane’s cockpit window. It is unclear whether or not anybody was killed or wounded as of yet.
The siege is said to have ended and the hijacker is now in police custody.
Despite the recent hijacking, Tuesday is termed an old-fashion type of terrorism, it once again raises concerns about security at Egypt’s airports.
The siege is in fact, one of the worst things that could have happened to Egypt given that the country’s airport security is yet to wipe off the black image they have amassed since last year.
In October, Metrojet Flight 9268 — taking off from Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh airport — was downed in the Sinai Peninsula, murdering 224 people on board.
ISIS later claimed responsibility, saying it beat security and smuggled a bomb on board. Ever since the Metrojet plane was blown up, it has been confirmed that there are lapses in Egyptian security. But Egypt said airport security has since then heightened.