EgyptAir passenger on Muscat-Cairo flight assaults crew

CAIRO (AP) — A passenger on an EgyptAir flight from the Gulf state of Oman to Cairo assaulted crew members on Tuesday but was quickly overpowered and handed over to authorities, Egyptian aviation officials said.

The Boeing 737-800 with 78 passengers returned to Muscat, Oman’s capital, 30 minutes after it took off from there, and the crew handed over the passenger to the police.

The plane later left for Cairo, arriving four hours behind schedule.

According to the officials, the passenger, identified as Egyptian national Mohammed Attiya Ashour, was not armed.

The incident unfolded shortly after takeoff, when the man began to shout “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great” in Arabic and demanded to enter the cockpit.

He was wrestled down by the flight’s two air marshals and crew members. The flight’s chief cabin steward was slightly injured in the head during the scuffle, the officials said.

Egyptian authorities have questioned the crew and other passengers about the incident after they arrived back in Cairo.

It was unlikely that the incident was terrorism-related, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

EgyptAir issued a brief statement confirming the incident, describing Ashour as a “disruptive” passenger.

A separate statement from the company that runs Oman’s airports said the aircraft returned to Muscat airport because of a passenger’s “unstable health condition.” The plane flew to Cairo soon after the passenger in question disembarked, it added.

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