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EgyptAir hijack ends with passengers freed unharmed, suspect arrested

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LARNACA – An EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked  and forced to land in Cyprus on Tuesday by a man with what officials said was a fake suicide belt, who was arrested after  surrendering himself.

The passengers and crew were unharmed. Eighty-one passengers, including 21 foreigners and 15 crew, were onboard the Airbus 320, Egypt`s Civil Aviation Ministry said in a statement.

Conflicting theories emerged about the motives of the hijacker, an Egyptian. A senior Cypriot official said he seemed unstable and the incident did not appear related to terrorism. The Cypriot state broadcaster said he had demanded the release of women prisoners in Egypt.

In the midst of the hijack, witnesses said he threw a letter on the apron at Cyprus`s Larnaca airport, written in Arabic, and asked that it be delivered to his Cypriot ex-wife.

After the aircraft landed at Larnaca, negotiations began and everyone on board was freed except three passengers and four crew, Egypt`s Civil Aviation Minister Sherif Fethy said.

Soon afterwards, Cypriot television footage showed several people leaving the plane via the stairs and another man climbing out of the cockpit window and running off.

The hijacker then surrendered to authorities.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said the hijacker had threatened to blow himself up and demanded that the aircraft be refueled and head to Istanbul.

“It looks like he realized his demands would not be met, allowing the last two hostages, Britons, to flee the aircraft. He also tried to leave, running out. He was arrested,” said Kasoulides.

“The explosives on him were examined. They weren’t explosives, but mobile phone covers.”

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the hijacker would be questioned to ascertain his motives. “At some moments he asked to meet with a representative of the European Union and at other points he asked to go to another airport but there was nothing specific,” he said.

Reuters

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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