Hijacker of the Egypt Air plane midway into flight between Alexandria and Cairo identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa has been arrested, according to the Cypriot foreign ministry and the airline.
Mustafa who hijacked the Airbus A320 plane and ordered the pilot to divert to Larnaca in Cyprus emerged from the aircraft after some hours and then walked across the tarmac with his hands up before being apprehended by two awaiting counter-terrorism police officers, an AFP correspondent reported, saying they laid him on the ground and searched him for about two minutes before taking him away.
The aircraft was hijacked 30 minutes into its flight, according to officials. Less than an hour later, local TV showed about 40 women and children being allowed to leave the aircraft. The freed passengers were then put on buses and taken to terminal buildings.
Earlier before Mustafa’s apparent submission, seven more people, thought to be the last of the crew and passengers who had remained with the hijacker on board, were seen leaving the plane. One man climbed out the cockpit window. Flight MS181 had 55 passengers on board when it was seized, Egyptian authorities said. All passengers and crew appeared to have been freed from the aircraft safely.
Cypriot foreign ministry tweets that situation has been resolved after man who hijacked flight between Alexandria and Cairo arrested in Cyprus
Egypt’s civil aviation minister, Sharif Fathi, said he had not made any concrete demands, though according to reports and the Cyprus president, the hijacking is connected to a woman, believed to be the hijacker’s estranged wife, who reportedly arrived at the airport. The man is believed to have thrown a letter to her from the plane.
There were also unconfirmed reports that he had demanded the release of prisoners in Egypt.
Egyptian authorities said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosive belt, but did not know whether the belt was real or fake.
Addressing reporters with the visiting European parliament president, Martin Schulz, the Cypriot leader, Nikos Anastasiades, ruled out terrorism, saying instead that that the hijacking had been instigated by a man bent on reuniting with his former wife.
“It’s all to do with a woman,” he said. “We are doing everything to release the hostages.”
Cyprus police said the control tower was contacted at 8.30am (5.30am GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8.50am.
A statement from the Egyptian civil aviation ministry said foreign nationals on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch passengers, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified. The nationalities of those who remained on the plane were not given.
NigerianFlightDeck with Agency reports