EgyptAir plane hijacked, most passengers freed (Third Lead)

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Cairo/Larnaca, March 29 (IANS) An EgyptAir plane on a domestic flight was hijacked on Tuesday and later landed in Cyprus, where all but four foreign passengers and the crew were released, media reports said.

The Airbus 320 was on its way from Alexandria to capital Cairo when a passenger claiming to be armed with explosives took charge of the aircraft and forced it to fly to Larnaca, Egyptian authorities said.

There were conflicting reports about the number of passengers on board. One report put the number at 61 and some others at 81. According to Xinhua news agency, there were 10 Americans and eight Britons on board.

Shortly after the landing, almost all the passengers were let off and they boarded buses to reach a safe location, Al Ahram newspaper reported.

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The Egyptian aviation ministry had earlier said that the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt, forcing the captain to divert the flight to Larnaca in Cyprus.

According to BBC, Cypriot police said those in control of the aircraft had made no immediate demands after it landed in Larnaca.

The Larnaca airport was closed and all scheduled flights were diverted. Cypriot anti-terrorism units have been deployed at Larnaca airport to deal with the crisis.

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