A man thought to be strapped with explosives hijacked an Egyptian plane on a flight between Alexandria and Cairo on Tuesday and forced it to land in Cyprus.
Four to five more passengers were seen leaving an Egyptair plane hijacked and diverted to Larnaca airport in Cyprus on Tuesday, Cypriot state media said.
It was not clear how many people were left on board the aircraft. Earlier, Egyptair reported four foreign passengers and seven-member crew had been left onboard after about 49 people were released.
Citing security sources, Cypriot state media reported that the motives of the hijacker appeared personal, and had asked to contact his ex wife, who lives in Cyprus.
“It is not something which has to do with terrorism,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades told reporters.
Cyprus broadcasting (CYBC) reported that the hijacker may have personal motives. He had an ex-wife in Cyprus, CYBC said.
“The negotiations with the hijacker have resulted in the release of all the plane passengers with the exception of the crew and five foreigners,” the airline said in a statement, but it later changed the figure to four foreigners still held.
Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said the plane’s pilot, Omar al-Gammal, had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger wearing a suicide explosives belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.
A Cyprus Foreign Ministry official said he could not confirm the man was rigged with explosives. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region.