An EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked Tuesday and forced to land in Cyprus by a man apparently distressed over a family matter, Reuters reported.
After the plane landed at Larnaca airport, the hijacker released all the people onboard except four foreign passengers and the crew, according to the report.
The aircraft, an Airbus 320, was said to be carrying about 60 people, including seven crew members.
The pilot reported that the man was strapped with explosives, although this was not confirmed.
Citing security sources, Cypriot state media said that the motives of the hijacker appeared personal and he 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.
There was some confusion over the identity of the hijacker, Reuters noted.
Egyptian state media named him as Ibrahim Samaha, an Egyptian, but gave no other details about him.
However, Gamal al-Omrawi, a deputy dean at Alexandria University, said that Samaha was a passenger on the plane and not the hijacker.
He said he had spoken by phone to Samaha, who confirmed that he was one of the passengers who had been released.
Witnesses said the hijacker threw a letter on the apron of the airport in Larnaca, written in Arabic, asking that it be delivered to his ex-wife, who is Cypriot.
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