Egyptair Hijacker Took Over Plane in Appeal to Ex-Wife: Reports
A commercial flight out of Egypt was hijacked Tuesday, but officials say the terrifying incident wasn't an act of terrorism so much as a cry for attention.
The incident began when a man claiming to be wearing an explosive belt took over an Egyptair flight, forcing pilots to land the Airbus 32 and all 80-plus people on board in Cyprus.
After a tense, hours-long stand-off that ended with the hijacker's arrest, the Cyprus Transport Ministry said the hijacking was not related to terrorism, but rather the hijacker's ex-wife.
One official reportedly said the hijacker "seems to be in love."
A Cyprus official told the Associated Press the man wore a belt but there were no explosives on it. The official say the hijacker, an Egyptian, asked to speak to his Cypriot ex-wife--with whom he has four children--during the standoff.
The hijacker reportedly also demanded the release of female prisoners from Egyptian jails.
Another official said the hijacker asked negotiators to give an envelope to a woman who lives in Cyprus.
Flight MS181 left the coastal city of Alexandria on Tuesday morning on what was supposed to be a 30-minute flight to Cairo.
However, passengers began to realized something was amiss when they saw the Mediterranean Sea appear beneath them.
The plane landed in the port city of Larnaca on Cyprus's south coast.
The first batch of passengers were soon released and seen walking calmly off the plane. One hostage was later seen scrambling out a plane window.
By 8:41 a.m., Cyprus officials said the situation was over as all passengers were evacuated and the hijacker was arrested.
Egyptian presidential spokesman Alaa Yousuf said authorities have identified the hijacker as Egyptian national Seif El Din Mustafa.