Egyptian Hijacking Ends Peacefully
LARNACA, Cyprus (AP) — An Egyptian man hijacked an EgyptAir plane Tuesday and forced it to land in Cyprus, where most passengers were eventually allowed to get off, though the crew remained on board, Egyptian and Cypriot officials said.
The man's motivation was unclear, but President Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was "not something that has to do with terrorism" and a Cyprus government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the man "seems (to be) in love."
A civil aviation official, also speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to disclose details of ongoing negotiations, said the man gave negotiators the name of a woman who lives in Cyprus and asked to give her an envelope. It's unclear what relationship she and the man have.
Flight MS181 took off from the Mediterranean coastal city of Alexandria en route to Cairo with at least 55 passengers, including 26 foreigners, and a seven-member crew.
Egyptian government spokesman Hossam al-Queish identified the man who hijacked the plane as Ibrahim Samah. Al-Queish also told the private CBC TV network that authorities could not confirm that Samah had explosives on him. An earlier statement from the Egyptian Aviation Ministry statement said the man claimed he had a belt with explosives.
The plane landed at the airport in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca, also on the Mediterranean. A statement from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry statement said the foreigners on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified.