EgyptAir hijack in Larnaca is 'over', hijacker arrested

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Mar 2016

EgyptAir Airbus A-320
Passengers of an EgyptAir Airbus A-320 which was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus stand at Larnaca airport after disembarking the plane on March 29, 2016 (AFP)

Ahram Online concludes its coverage of the hijacking of EgyptAir flight 181 which started at 7am 20 minutes after it took off from Alexandria on its way to Cairo and ended around 2pm in Larnaka, Cyprus without casualties.


14:20 Egypt's minister of civil aviation Sherif Fathi says he had doubts from the beginning that the hijacking of EgyptAir Flight 181 was a terrorist incident.

The minister told state TV that the arrested man displayed "unprofessionalism" in his hijacking techniques, and phone calls he made while he was aboard showed he had some personal and mental problems.

"However, we had to deal with the situation as a security threat and operate as if he had a real bomb in order to keep all people on board safe," Fathi added.

"Larnaka Airport is now closed, and when it reopens we will head there to bring home the Egyptian passengers and help the foreign passengers make their way home," Fathi said.

14:00 Cypriot TV said the arrested hijacker of the EgyptAir plane on Tuesday had no explosive belt.

Cyprus state TV showed the hijacker emerging from the aircraft with his hands in the air, as he surrendered to authorities.

13:50 Cyprus foreign ministry has said the hijacking of EgyptAir plane is over and that the hijacker is arrested  "Its over. The #hijacker arrested. #LarnacaAirport # Egyptair," it said on Twitter.

13:38 Three more people are shown on TV screens from Larnaca airport leaving the plane minutes after footage showed at least four people disembarking. So far at least 7 people of 9 remaining people, including the hijacker, aboard flight 181 have left the plane in the last 15 minutes.

13:10 “We are closely monitoring the situation and are engaged with relevant Egyptian authorities. We are looking into whether US citizens are involved," US embassy spokesperson told Ahram Online.

Egyptian civil aviation ministry had said in an earlier statement that eight Americans, four Dutch, four Britons, two Belgians, and three passengers from France, Syria, and Italy were among the initial list of passengers aboard the hijacked plane.

13:00 "We are working very closely with the Egyptians and Cypriots to follow up on the situation," David Kinna, the British embassy in Cairo's Second Secretary Press and Political told Ahram Online in response to a question about whether one of the passengers remaining on board the hijacked EgyptAir plane in Larnaca is British as earlier reports had indicated.

12:50 EgyptAir officials said in their latest statement that a total of nine people are aboard the hijacked EgyptAir flight 181 in Larnaca airport.

"Three passengers, the pilot, the co-pilot, and three cabin crew members, in addition to the hijacker, are still aboard the aircraft."

12:40 The Cypriot foreign ministry confirmed that the hijacker is a man by the name of Seif El-din Mustafa, without giving further details. 

12:10 Egypt's presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef told CNN that the hijacker's name is Seif El Din Mustafa and not passenger Ibrahim Samaha who was initially reported as the culprit. Youssef did not divulge the nationality of the alleged hijacker, however, independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm identified Mustafa as an Egyptian citizen.

12:05 EgyptAir hijacker asking for release of prisoners in Egypt according to Cyprus state broadcaster, Reuters reported.

11:30 The Egyptian Minister of Aviation Sherif Fathi tells reporters three crew members, one security officer and three passengers - out of a total of 55 - remain hostage on the hijacked Egypt Air plane in Larnaca airport.

The minister refused to divulge the nationalities of the hijacker or remaining passengers, citing security concerns.

"I will not give names or details until I have definite details," Fathi told local and international reporters at a press conference.

We are being cautious with the hijacker's claims that he is wearing an explosive belt, we cannot be sure but we have to be cautious, the minister said.

Fathi told reporters that he has no definitive information about specific demands made by the hijacker.

11:20 President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades was quoted by Cypriot news outlets as saying that the hijacking is "not linked to terrorism."

A Cyprus government official told the Associated Press, on condition of anonymity, that the man "seems [to be] in love," and a civil aviation official added that the man handed negotiators an envelope in which he asked to be brought to a woman who lives in Cyprus.

11:10 Alexandria University professor Ibrahim Samaha, who was initially reported as the hijacker of EgyptAir flight 181, told BBC Arabic in a phone call that he is not behind the hijacking of the plane. Samaha added that he was simply a passenger and was among those released.

11:00 Reuters reports that more passengers are seen disembarking the hijacked plane. Earlier in the day, Egypt's aviation ministry had said that all passengers were allowed to disembark except for four non-Egyptians and the plane's crew. 

The plane was carrying 81 passengers and had a 15-person crew plus one security officer.

10:50 EgyptAir flight 181 crew refuses to leave hijacked plane before the release of all remaining passengers, according to CBC Extra Egyptian TV channel.

10:45 Sky News Arabia reported that the hijacker is an Egyptian professor of veterinary medicine at Alexandria University and he holds US citizenship.

10:40 Cyprus broadcasting (CYBC) reported that the hijacker may have personal motives and that he has an ex-wife in Cyprus, according to Reuters.

10:30 Cyprus state TV said the hijacker was demanding asylum in the Mediterranean Island. The hijacker asked for a translator to relay his demands to the authorities, it added.

10:20 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has called his Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades to discuss the crisis.

10:15  Egypt's prime minister Sherif Ismail asked the civil aviation minister to open investigation into the hijacking of flight 181 and security measures at Borg El-Arab airport in Alexandria where the hijacked plane originated, CBC extra TV channel reported.

Passengers of an EgyptAir Airbus A-320 which was hijacked and diverted to Cyprus stand at Larnaca airport after disembarking the plane on March 29, 2016 (AFP)


The Egyptian aviation ministry had earlier announced that all passengers aboard the hijacked EgyptAir flight, which was forced to land in Larnaca, Cyprus on Tuesday morning have been allowed to disembark the flight except for four non-Egyptians and the plane's crew.

"Negotiations with the kidnapper result in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners," a second statement from EgyptAir said.

Egyptian civil aviation ministry had said in an earlier statement that the hijacked plane had 15 crew members and 81 passengers on board including eight Americans, four Dutch, four Britons, two Belgians, and three passengers from France, Syria, and Italy

Earlier on Tuesday, a passenger on the EgyptAir local flight 181, which was heading from Alexandria to Cairo, threatened to detonate an explosives belt, forcing the captain to divert the flight to Larnaca airport in Cyprus.

The Egyptian state TV aired a picture of the hijacker aboard the plane identifying him as Ibrahim Samaha without reporting on his nationality.

The aviation ministry had said that Cypriot officials negotiated with the hijacker.

Cypriot anti-terrorism units have been deployed at Larnaca airport to deal with the crisis.

The ministry identified the hijacked plane as airbus 320, flight 181.

The hijacker contacted the control tower at 8:30 am (0530 GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8:50 am, the Cypriot police had said according to AFP.

Search Keywords:
Short link: