The hijacker of an EgyptAir airplane that was diverted to Cyprus on Tuesday has asked for the release of female prisoners in Egypt, the Cyprus state broadcaster reported.
All but seven people on board the aircraft, which was traveling from Alexandria to Cairo, have been released. The pilot had reported that the hijacker was strapped with explosives, but Egyptian authorities have not confirmed this.
An Egyptian man hijacked an EgyptAir plane Tuesday and forced it to land in Cyprus, where most passengers were eventually allowed to get off, though four crew members and three passengers remained on board with the hijacker, Egyptian and Cypriot officials said.
The man's motivation was unclear, but Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was "not something that has to do with terrorism" and a Cyprus government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation, said the man "seems (to be) in love."
However, it was later confirmed by Cyprus foreign ministry that the hijacker was misidentified as Ibrahim Samaha.
— Cyprus MFA (@CyprusMFA) March 29, 2016
Al-Queish, the government spokesman, also told the private CBC TV network that authorities could not confirm that the hijacker had explosives on him. An earlier statement from the Egyptian Aviation Ministry said the man claimed he had a belt with explosives.
The plane landed at the airport in the southern Cypriot city of Larnaca, also on the Mediterranean. A statement from the Egyptian Civil Aviation Ministry statement said the foreigners on board included eight Americans, four Britons, four Dutch, two Belgians, a French national, an Italian, two Greeks and one Syrian. Three other foreigners could not be identified. Fathi did not give the nationalities of those who remained on the plane.
The incident raises more questions about security at Egyptian airports, five months after 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 took responsibility.
With inputs from Associated Press and Reuters