With the hijack over, seemingly without anyone hurt, and the man responsible in the custody of Cypriot police, here’s a summary of what happened.
A man claiming to be wearing a suicide belt hijacked an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo, forcing the pilot to divert to Larnaca in Cyprus, where he held passengers and crew hostage.
The six-hour siege ended peacefully, with passengers and crew leaving the plane gradually. The hijacker, identified as Seif Eldin Mustafa, an Egyptian national, walked down the plane steps and was arrested.
The motives for the hijack remain unclear. Reports and comments by the president of Cyprus suggested the man was motivated by a desire to contact his ex-wife, a Cypriot national, who was reportedly brought to the airport to talk to him. It was also said later that he was seeking the release of some female prisoners in Egypt, and to speak to EU officials.
The foreign ministry of Cyprus said after the hijack was over that the perpetrator was “psychologically unstable”. Officials at the foreign ministry in Egypt were more blunt: “He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot.”
Egyptian officials said the 55 passengers included eight Americans, four Britons, two Belgians, one Italian and four Dutch people, with the remainder Egyptian. The final part of the siege saw just seven hostages remaining, three passengers and four crew or security officials.
Cyprus Authorities at Larnaca Airport said later that the supposed suicide belt was a fake, During the hijack, Egypt’s civil aviation minister said that this could be the case, but the only safe option was to act as if it might be real.