The EgyptAir hijacker is in the custody of authorities in Cyprus, Homer Mavrommatis, director of the Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs Crisis Management Center, said Tuesday.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Cyprus confirmed in a tweet at around 7:45 a.m. ET that the hours-long ordeal was over.
The drama unfolded aboard EgyptAir Flight MS181, which was on a domestic flight en route from Alexandria to Cairo. A hijacker who claimed to have an explosive belt ordered the plane to land in either Turkey or Cyprus, according to officials.
The Airbus A320 flew to the Cypriot port city of Larnaca and landed at around 7:50 a.m. local time (12:50 a.m. ET), where negotiations got underway, EgyptAir said.
The majority of the passengers were soon released, leaving all but four foreigners and seven crew members on board.
The hijacker spent the first three hours of the standoff demanding to speak to his Cypriot ex-wife, a high-level source close to the operation told said.
“Our people they were talking to him all the time in order to keep keep him busy and allow people to come out,” the source added, saying that for each request negotiators asked that more hostages be released in return.
The incident began when an Egyptian man allegedly hijacked the EgyptAir flight because of his ex-wife, forcing the plane to land in Cyprus, officials said Tuesday.
Authorities identified the hijacker as Egyptian national Seif El Din Mustafa, presidential spokesman Alaa Yousuf said. Earlier, Yousuf identified the hijacker as an Egyptian-American dual citizen with a different name.
“He asked for asylum, he wanted to talk with someone from the European Union… It seems that he was an unstable personality,” the source explained, requesting anonymity due to the fluid nature of the investigation.