EgyptAir hijacker 'demands Sisi release female prisoners'

EgyptAir hijacker 'demands Sisi release female prisoners'
2 min read
29 March, 2016
Hijacker of EgyptAir plane demands release of all female prisoners in Egypt as all but few passengers on-board the plane are freed in Cyprus, where plane was forced to land.
All passengers, except four foreigners, were allowed to disembark the EgyptAir plane [Getty]
The hijacker of EgyptAir flight MS181 has demanded the release of all female prisoners in Egypt, sources said, as the incident forced the delay of a US-bound Egyptian flight for "security concerns".

Seven people remained on board the hijacked plane, which was flying from Alexandria to Cairo but was forced to land in Cyprus on Tuesday, Egypt's civil aviation minister Sharif Fathi confirmed.

No further information on the identity of the hijacker was released.

Egyptian officials initially identified the hijacker as Egyptian-national Ibrahim Samaha.

But an Egyptian woman who said she is the wife of Ibrahim Samaha denied he is the hijacker.

Samaha was apparently on board the plane on his way to Cairo en route to the United States to attend an academic conference, his wife said.

The woman, who identified herself as Nahla, told the private TV network ONTV in a telephone interview that her husband had never been to Cyprus and that a photo shown on Egyptian and regional TV channels and purporting to show the hijacker is not her husband.

Meanwhile, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades said the hijacking was "not something that has to do with terrorism." However, a flight bound to New York from Cairo has been delayed following the incident, with security concerns cited.

The plane's captain, an assistant, an air hostess and a security officer remained on board, along with the three passengers, Egypt's civil aviation minister said in a press conference.

The Airbus A-320 carrying 81 passengers was hijacked between Alexandria and Cairo, and forced to divert its course

Hijacked en-route to Cairo

"The Airbus A-320 carrying 81 passengers and flying between Alexandria and Cairo was hijacked," an Egyptian ministry statement said earlier.

"The pilot said that a passenger told him he had an explosives vest and forced the plane to land in Larnaca," the statement added.

"Negotiations with the hijacker resulted in the release of all the passengers," except the crew and foreign passengers EgyptAir tweeted.

Regardless of the motives, the hijacking will most likely bring to the fore again the question of 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 said it downed the plane.

Agencies contributed to this report.