NEWS

EgyptAir Hijack Hostage Situation Ends As Suspect Arrested

His motives for hijacking the aircraft remain unclear.

29/03/2016 07:45 | Updated 30 March 2016

The hijacker of an EgyptAir flight has been arrested, ending a six-hour hostage situation in Cyprus's Larnaca International Airport, officials have confirmed.

All passengers and crew are safe after a man named by Egyptian officials as Seif El Din Mustafa hijacked a plane that was travelling from Alexandria to Cairo on Tuesday morning.

EgyptAir Flight MS181 had 81 people on board when it was hijacked and directed towards Cyprus.

The pilot reported that one of the passengers threatened that he had an explosives belt, forcing the pilot to land in Larnaca Airport.

Since Mustafa's arrest, the Egyptian government has confirmed the suicide belt was fake.

The hijacker was seen being led away from the airport by the authorities.

His motives for hijacking the aircraft remain unclear, although there were reports that the suspect wanted to see his estranged wife, who is Cypriot, and had written her a letter.

Egyptian state media released the photo below appearing to show the hijacker.

State media have released this photo of the EgyptAir hijacker.

Cypriot president Nikos Anastasiades sparked criticism today when he was caught on camera laughing about the hijacking while hostages were still being held by the suspect.

Anastasiades said: "It is not something that has to do with terrorism."

Laughing, the president added: “You know what I mean. Always there is a woman involved.”

Egypt’s foreign ministry confirmed that the hijacker was not a terrorist, but an “idiot”.

“He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is,” it said in a statement.

The domestic flight was travelling from Alexandria to Cairo when it was hijacked and taken to Cyprus's Larnaca International Airport.

EgyptAir announced shortly after 7.30am on Tuesday that Flight MS181 had been hijacked. 

At about 8am about 20 passengers, mainly women and children, were allowed off the aircraft.

Reports of the hijacker's motives changed throughout the morning. 

Sources said that he was seeking asylum, while others claimed he wanted to be put in touch with his estranged wife, who was escorted to the airport.

It remains unclear exactly what his motives were.

Pictures emerged appearing to show a letter, which was reportedly for the hijacker's ex-wife, being passed to a flight attendant from the cockpit. 

By about 8.30am, most of the hostages were allowed to leave the plane, except for the crew and four passengers.

The airport, located on the south coast of Cyprus, was closed and scheduled flights diverted elsewhere.

Pictures emerged on social media appearing to show the hijacker having photos taken with some of the hostages.

At about 12.30pm, a figure was seen climbing out of one of the plane's windows in footage broadcast by the BBC.

At 12.43pm Cypriot officials announced the hijacker had been arrested.

The Airbus A320 was taken over by at least one armed hijacker.

According to reports, there were four Briton's caught up in today's events.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is providing support to Britons involved.

An FCO spokesman said: “We are relieved that the situation at Larnaca Airport has now come to a safe conclusion.

"We are providing consular support to British Nationals caught up in today’s events.

“We remain in close contact with the Cypriot and Egyptian authorities.”

The hijacking is likely to resurface concerns over security at Egyptian airports.

Last year a Russian aircraft crashed over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula minutes after it took off from Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

All 224 people on board were killed in the crash. Russia later said an explosive device brought down the aircraft and the extremist Islamic State group said it downed the plane.

  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, is brought by policeman to the court in Larnaca on March 30, 2016. The six-hour airport standoff ended peacefully. The hijacker, described by officials as 'unstable', had claimed to be wearing a bomb belt but no explosives were discovered after he gave himself up at Larnaca airport and was arrested. / AFP / GEORGE MICHAEL (Photo credit should read GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa (C) forced the plane to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, an Egyptian man who hijacked an EgyptAir passenger plane the previous day and forced it to divert to Cyprus demanding to see his ex-wife, flashes the 'V' for victory sign as he leaves the court in Larnaca in a police car on March 30, 2016. Mostafa was remanded into police custody for eight days during his first court appearance. Police told the court that 58-year-old Egyptian national faces possible charges of hijacking, kidnapping people with the aim of taking them to an unknown destination, reckless and threatening behaviour and offences that breach the anti-terror law. / AFP / GEORGE MICHAEL (Photo credit should read GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A man thought to be the hijacker leaves the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320 at Larnaca Airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man leaves the hijacked aircraft of EgyptAir from the pilot's window after landing at Larnaca airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A man leaves the hijacked aircraft.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac after leaving the plane.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac after leaving the plane as the highjacker surrendered to security forces.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320, which was diverted to Cyprus, run on the tarmac.
  • GEORGE MICHAEL via Getty Images
    The remaining passengers on the highjacked EgyptAir Airbus A-320 run on the tarmac.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    An official boards a hijacked Egyptair A320 Airbus at Larnaca Airport in Larnaca, Cyprus.
  • FameFlynet.uk.com
    General View of EgyptAir flight from Alexandria's Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A policeman stands guard at Larnaca Airport.
  • Petros Karadjias/AP
    Cyprus police officers escort EgyptAir plane hijacking suspect Seif Eddin Mustafa, third right, to a court for a remand hearing as authorities investigate him on charges including hijacking, illegal possession of explosives and abduction in the Cypriot coastal town of Larnaca Wednesday, March 30, 2016. 
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac.
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac.
  • BEHROUZ MEHRI via Getty Images
    Cypriot policemen stand guard in the vicinity of Larnaca airport where an EgyptAir Airbus A-320 (R) sits on the tarmac.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    A hijacked Egypt Air A320 airbus stands on the runway at Larnaca Airport.
  • Petros Karadjias/AP
    A passenger leaves a hijacked EgyptAir aircraft after landing at Larnaca Airport.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Passengers and crew leave the hijacked Egyptair Airbus A320.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Police stand guard at Larnaca Airport near a hijacked Egypt Air Airbus A320 , March 29, 2016. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca aiport after it was hijacked.
  • STR via Getty Images
    An Egypt Air Airbus A-320 sits on the tarmac of Larnaca aiport after it was hijacked.
  • FameFlynet.uk.com
    EgyptAir flight from Alexandria's Burg Al-Arab airport to Cairo was hijacked.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    An official telephones from the ramp of a hijacked Egyptair A320 Airbus.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A police officer patrols outside the airport.
  • Splash News
    An Egypt air plane hijacked in Larnaca Cyprus.
  • Yiannis Kourtoglou / Reuters
    Media gather at Larnaca Airport.
  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
    A bus carrying some passengers from a hijacked EgyptAir aircraft drives by the plane at Larnaca Airport.

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