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Middle East

EgyptAir hostage stand-off ends with hijacker surrender

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-03-29

The hijacker of an EgyptAir airliner surrendered to authorities on Tuesday, according to Cyprus's state broadcaster, which said the man emerged from the aircraft with his hands in the air.

The stand-off came to a peaceful end more than six hours after the Cairo-bound plane was diverted to the southern coast of Cyprus.

The hijacker, reportedly a disgruntled Egyptian national, freed most of the passengers after the plane landed in Larnaca, but kept four foreigners and the crew as hostages.

Local Cyprus radio reported he was armed, while Egyptian civil aviation said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt.

It nevertheless appeared that no one was injured in the international, high-risk incident.
A crisis team was deployed to the airport, which was closed amid the hostage situation, with flights diverted to the western city of Paphos.

Egypt said it had sent a plane to Cyprus to pick up stranded passengers, some of whom had been traveling from Alexandria to Cairo for connecting flights abroad.

Although the hijacker’s motives were initially unclear, officials said it appeared he was driven by personal reasons.

“It is not something which has to do with terrorism,” Cypriot President Nicos
Anastasiades told reporters. Asked if a woman was involved he said, “There is always a woman involved.”

A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told AP that the man “seems [to be] in love”, while a civil aviation official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, 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.

Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises. Several hijacked planes were diverted to the airport, the main entry point for tourists to the Mediterranean resort island, in the 1970s and 1980s. 

Flight path of hijacked EgyptAir Flight MS181

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-03-29


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