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Posted: March 29, 2016

Cypriot president laughs off EgyptAir hijacking, 'Always a woman involved'

NICOSIA, CYPRUS - NOVEMBER 18: Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades looks at the coffin of Former Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides as military personnel escort his coffin to a church for his funeral service on November 19, 2013 in Nicosia, Cyprus. The Former President, who oversaw his country's entry into the EU in 2004, died in a Nicosia hospital on Friday evening at the age of 94. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images)
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
NICOSIA, CYPRUS - NOVEMBER 18: Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades looks at the coffin of Former Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides as military personnel escort his coffin to a church for his funeral service on November 19, 2013 in Nicosia, Cyprus. The Former President, who oversaw his country's entry into the EU in 2004, died in a Nicosia hospital on Friday evening at the age of 94. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images)

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            Cypriot president laughs off EgyptAir hijacking, 'Always a woman involved'
A picture taken on September 30, 2015 shows an Egypt Air plane on the tarmac of Cairo international Airport. AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI (Photo credit should read KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

By Cox Media Group National Content Desk

The hijacker of an EgyptAir plane Tuesday morning was identified by Cypriot and Egyptian officials as Seif Eldin Mustafa, 59.

>> Read more trending stories  

Mustafa, an Egyptian living in Cyprus, told the pilot that he was wearing a suicide belt and threatened to detonate it. The suicide vest he said he was wearing was later confirmed as fake, Reuters reported.

Conflicting reports identify different motives.

>>EgyptAir hijacking: What we know now

Cypriot officials said the hijacker initially demanded that the plane fly to Turkey but later agreed to let it land in Cyprus after pilots told him they didn't have enough fuel for a longer flight, the New York Times reported

A state broadcaster in Cyprus reported that Mustafa demanded the release of female prisoners in Egyptian jails and called for a meeting with his former wife, who lives in Cyprus. Witnesses said that when the plane landed, the hijacker threw a four-page letter, written in Arabic, onto the tarmac, and asked that it be delivered to his ex-wife, MetroUK reported. The ex-wife ultimately visited the airport and helped persuade Mustafa to surrender, the Cypriot broadcaster reported.

Mustafa eventually allowed everyone on board the plane to exit over the course of six hours, and no one was injured. 

Mustafa, who lived in Cyprus until 1995, is a former Egyptian army officer who married a Cypriot woman with whom he had five children, including a daughter who died in a car crash, according to Cypriot news reports that could not be immediately confirmed. He and his ex-wife divorced in 1994, the Associated Press reported.

During a press conference, Cypriot President Nico Anastasiades said the incident "(had) nothing to do with terrorism." 

A Cypriot government official simply said the man "seems (to be) in love."

Twitter users later joked about the potential motive.

An investigation into Mustafa's motives is still underway.

After Anastasiades released a statement during the news conference, he was criticized for comments regarding Mustafa's motive.

When a reporter asked if a woman was involved in the incident, Anastasiades chuckled and said, "Always there is a woman involved."

Social media users criticized Anastasiades on Twitter: 

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