A man claiming to be wearing an explosive vest hijacked an EgyptAir plane en route to Cairo from Alexandria on Tuesday morning and forced it to land in Larnaca, on the southern coast of Cyprus.
Most of the 56 passengers were released, but a tense standoff ensued for four hours, as the plane stayed on the tarmac. Three passengers, and five crew members — including the pilot and co-pilot — were still on board, along with the hijacker, EgyptAir said in a Facebook post at 12:15 p.m.
Although the hijacker said he was wearing a suicide belt and threatened to detonate it, officials in Egypt and Cyprus said they could not confirm his assertions, and that they believed he may have been motivated by personal factors. The president of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, said the hijacking was “not something that has to do with terrorism.”
While the authorities were scrambling to identify the hijacker and to establish what had happened, the episode raised new concerns about airport security in Egypt and dealt another blow to the country’s beleaguered tourism industry — once a mainstay of its economy — which plummeted after a bomb downed a Russian airliner shortly after it took off from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh on Oct. 31, killing all 224 people on board.
Read More- New York Times
Image courtesy of Getty
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