Tom Goodenough

Cyprus hijacker ‘detains Brits, while letting Egyptian passengers go’

Cyprus hijacker 'detains Brits, while letting Egyptian passengers go'
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A number of British passengers are believed to be amongst those being held hostage on a hijacked EgyptAir plane which has landed in Cyprus. The jet - which took off from Alexandra in Egypt and had been due to fly to Cairo - had 81 passengers on board. Most of those, including 51 Egyptians have been let go, according to the airline which said only the crew and four foreign national passengers remained on the plane which is currently sitting on the tarmac at Larnaca International Airport. Details are still sketchy on exactly what the motives for the hijacking are but there are reports suggesting that the hijacker is attempting to claim political asylum in Cyprus. Egypt Air have said in a statement:

Negotiations with the Hijacker result in the release of all the passengers, except the crew and four foreigners.

— EGYPTAIR (@EGYPTAIR) March 29, 2016

Even at this early stage, however, what seems clear is that the incident does nothing to suggest that airport security has improved in Egypt, particularly given that EgyptAir is the country's flag carrier airline. 224 people died last October when a MetroJet plane blew up moments after taking off from Sharm-el-Sheikh airport. It is believed a bomb was smuggled on board the jet in an incident which decimated the country's tourist industry. Thankfully, the latest incident has not resulted in any deaths at the time of writing. But once again, airport authorities in Egypt face questions about exactly how much they are doing to ensure plane passengers are safe.

UPDATE:

The hijacking is now over and a man has been arrested. The hijacker's motives remain unclear amid reports that the man was trying to get in contact with his Cypriot ex-wife. A spokesman for Egyptair said: 'All the passengers are released and the hijacker is arrested'.