Hostages freed as EgyptAir plane hijacker is arrested

Hostages freed as EgyptAir plane hijacker is arrested
2 min read
29 March, 2016
A "psychologically unstable" man who hijacked an Egyptian airliner earlier on Tuesday has been detained and everyone on board the plane were safely freed, Cypriot officials confirmed.
All the passengers and crew on board hijacked EgyptAir plane are safe [Getty]
A hijacker who seized an Egyptian airliner and forced it to land in Cyprus has been detained and all passengers freed, officials said on Tuesday.

"The hijacker has just been arrested," Cypriot government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said on Twitter, without providing further details.

A man emerged from the aircraft and then walked across the tarmac with his hands up to two awaiting counter-terrorism police officers, an AFP correspondent reported.

They laid him on the ground and searched him for around two minutes before taking him away.

The hijacker had claimed to be wearing an explosives belt when he took over the plane earlier on Tuesday, but sources said the belt was a fake.

The man who forced the plane to land on the island was psychologically "unstable," the Cyprus foreign ministry said.

"This is not about terrorism. This is about the individual action of a person who is psychologically unstable," the ministry's permanent secretary Alexandros Zenon said.

No further information on the identity of the hijacker who sparked a six-hour standoff before his surrender was released.

The hijacker had claimed to be wearing an explosives belt when he took over the plane, but sources said the belt was a fake.


All the passengers and crew are safe, Egypt's civil aviation minister said after Cyprus announced the hijacker had been arrested.

"The passengers are safe and the crew is safe," Sherif Fathy said on state television, minutes after the Cypriot government spokesman said that the hijacker had been taken into custody.

A man climbs out of the cockpit window of the hijacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320 parked at the tarmac of Larnaca airport [Getty]

Hijacked en-route to Cairo

The Airbus A-320 carrying 81 passengers and flying between Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked, an Egyptian ministry statement announced early on Tuesday.

"The pilot said that a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca," the statement added.

The incident will most likely bring to the fore again the question of security at Egyptian airports, five months after a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board were killed in the crash.

Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group said it downed the plane.

Agencies contributed to this report.