A hijacker who claimed he was wearing an explosive belt forced a domestic EgyptAir flight to land in Cyprus before releasing the majority of those on board, except four foreigners and seven crew.

EgyptAir flight 181 from Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo landed in Larnaca. The Airbus 320 was carrying 81 passengers and seven crew members, the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement. Cypriot authorities sent anti-terror forces to the airport, Sky News Arabia reported.


Arriving police have a crisis team to deal with the situation, and they are negotiating with the hijacker, who has been identified by Egyptian state TV as Ibrahim Samaha, a Professor of Veterinary Medicine from Alexandria University, Cairo.

The hijacker first asked police to leave the area so that women and children could be let off the plane, according to former EU Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou.

EgyptAir said that following negotiations, all passengers have been released other than cabin crew and four ‘foreign’ passengers. The hijacker, whose ex-wife lives in Cyprus, has demanded asylum in the country. Al-Arabiya reports that he ‘may have personal motives’ which is not necessarily terrorism.

It has not yet been established is the foreign passengers still being held are British citizen.

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