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Plane Hijacked By Man With ‘Suicide Belt’, Forced To Land In Cyprus

An Egyptair domestic flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked on Tuesday and landed in Cyprus, Egyptian officials said.

It’s Over:

Everyone is now off the plane and the hijacker is in police custody.

Mail: Passenger Posed for Selfie with Hijacker:

Cyprus Foreign Ministry: Hijacker Arrested:

Video of Man Jumping from Aircraft:

Picture: Man Climbs Out of Aircraft:

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Yiannis Kourtoglou/Reuters

BBC: One Person Escapes By Cockpit Window:

The BBC is reporting that one person escaped the plane through the window of the cockpit.

Four more people leave plane:

Now Media Reports Hijacker Claims to Be Egyptian Army Officer:

Photo of Alleged Hijacker:

EgyptAir Is Sending Another Plane to Pick Up the Released Passengers:

BBC: Downing Street “Aware of Speculation” About Britons on Board:

Latest Image: Police Sniper Takes Aim:

STR/AFP/Getty Images

STR/AFP/Getty Images

Second AirEgypt Plane Not Allowed to Take Off:

Seven People Still On Board:

Egypt’s foreign ministry says 4 passengers and 3 crew are still on board the aircraft.

Now there are claims the hijacker is asking for release of prisoners in Egypt:

Egypt Foreign Ministry Denies Calling Hijacker ‘Idiot’:

Ruth Michaelson, who quoted the officials, responds that “no one said it was the spokesperson”.

Cyprus Names Hijacker:

Hijacker ‘Has Made No Concrete Demands’:

Hijacker Now Named as Seif El Din Mustafa:

Local media now claim this is the hijacker’s name, although this remains unconfirmed.

Explosive Belt ‘Dealt With As If Real’:

Egypt’s aviation minister told a press conference he did not know if explosives were real: “We didn’t know if it was real, but we dealt with it as if it was real.”

screenshot

Man Wrongly Identified as Hijacker Speaks Out:

He told BBC Arabic: “We did not know what was going on. We got aboard the plane and we were surprised that the crew took all our passports, which is unusual for a domestic flight. After a while we realised that the altitude is getting higher. Then we knew we were heading to Cyprus. At first the crew told us there was a problem with the plane, and only later we knew it was hijacked.”

Hijacker ‘Misidentified’:

Two Britons Still On Board:

Picture Emerges of Released Hostages:

GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images

GEORGE MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images

Hijacker’s Ex-Wife ‘Helping Negotiations’:

Reports: Hijacker Teaches Veterinary Medicine:

Various reports are now naming the hijacker as Ibrahim Abdel Tawwab Samaha, a professor of veterinary medicine at Alexandria University.

BBC: Eight Americans, Four Britons on Hijacked Plane:

The BBC quotes the head of Alexandria’s Borg El Arab Airport as saying eight Americans, four Britons, two Belgians, one Italian, four Dutch and 30 Egyptians were on board the flight.

Reuters: More Passengers Seen Leaving Plane:

Egypt Foreign Ministry: He’s Not a Terrorist, He’s an Idiot:

The Guardian is quoting officials at Egypt’s ministry of foreign affairs as saying: “He’s not a terrorist, he’s an idiot. Terrorists are crazy but they aren’t stupid. This guy is.”

Cypriot President: Not Terrorism, Personal Motive:

Egypt State TV Shows Purported Photo of Hijacker:

Claim: Hijacker Teaches at Atlanta University:

Hijacker “Wants To Deliver Message to Ex-Wife”:

Footage of Passengers Being Released:

Hijacker Named as Ibrahim Samaha

Reports Four of the Foreign Passengers are British:

The UK embassy in Egypt says on Facebook:

We are aware of reports of a plane hijacking in Egypt and are investigating urgently with the Egyptian and Cypriot…

Posted by UK in Egypt on Tuesday, March 29, 2016

UPDATE: Egypt Air Says All Passengers Freed Except 5 and Crew:

Reuters reports:

EgyptAir said negotiations had resulted in the release of all passengers on the hijacked Egyptian plane except for five foreigners and the crew.

“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.

From Reuters:

The pilot of the plane was threatened by a passenger strapped with explosives, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry said.

The Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation reported that 55 passengers were on board and a crew of seven. The hijacking occurred in Cyprus’s flight information region and the airliner was diverted to Larnaca.

The plane was an Airbus 320, Egypt’s aviation ministry said.

The ministry in a statement that pilot Omar al-Gammal had informed authorities that he was threatened by a passenger who possessed a suicide belt and forced him to land in Larnaca.

CYBC said the airplane was parked at an apron at Larnaca airport. The hijacker asked police to back away from the aircraft, it said.

Israel scrambled warplanes in its airspace as a precaution in response to the plane hijacking, according to an Israeli military source.

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