UPDATED: New blow to Sisi as Egypt Air flight from Alexandria to Cairo hijacked; foreigners detained

Lone hijacker detains foreign nationals after talks, the flag carrier said in what would further hurt country's tourism industry.

AN Egypt Air flight from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked, a spokeswoman for the Egyptian flag carrier said on Tuesday.

The carrier later said that negotiations had resulted in the release of all Egyptians, apart from four foreigners and the crew.

The lone hijacker asked for flight MS 181 to land in Cyprus, said the spokeswoman, who asked not to be identified in line with company policy.

The aircraft landed safely in Cyprus, where it is at Larnaca airport on the south coast, Cypriot police said.

The hijacker contacted the control tower at 8:30 am (0530 GMT) and the plane was given permission to land at 8:50 am, the police said. 

The hijacker made no immediate demands and a crisis team has been deployed to the airport.

Egyptian civil aviation said the hijacker had threatened to detonate an explosives belt.

Militant attacks in Egypt have surged since the 2013 ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

The attacks have hurt the country’s one-shining tourism industry, hampering the country’s efforts to revive its economy and lure in foreign investors. 

A Russian passenger plane was brought down over Sinai in October in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.

Global airline and airport security officials are on heightened alert after bombs ripped through the airport in Belgium’s capital Brussels last week. 

Asian airports had stepped up checks since the Paris terrorist attacks and the suspected bombing of the Russian aircraft over Sinai.

Larnaca is no stranger to hostage crises. Several hijacked planes were diverted to the airport in the 1970s and 1980s.

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