Libyan plane hijack: 109 out of 111 passengers released at Malta airport

Dec 24, 2016, 00:29
Libyan plane hijack: 109 out of 111 passengers released at Malta airport

In the end, all 118 hostages were released from the plane safely and the hijackers, who described themselves as "pro-Gaddafi" and said they wanted asylum in Malta, were taken into custody.

The airplane, operated by state-owned Libyan airline Afriqiyah Airways, was making an internal flight when it was diverted to Malta, Sky News reported.

Maltese media is reporting two hijackers are threatening to blow up a plane with 111 people on board.

Reuters reported, several passengers descended the steps from the hijacked plane at Malta International Airport on Friday.

An Afriqiyah Airways source said two hijackers had threatened the pilots with an explosive device, probably a grenade.

Video posted by the Times of Malta shows the plane sitting on the ground, with security forces gathered nearby.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed in a series of tweets the gradual release of the 118 passengers and crew from the plane, before the pair eventually surrendered nearly four hours later. It is unclear whether the parliamentarian, identified as Abdel-Salam al-Marabet, was actually on board the flight. The Airbus A320 departed from the Libyan city of Sebha at 10:10 am Friday local time bound for Tripoli but has instead diverted to Malta.

All flights from the airport are now suspended.

Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta.

The hijacking of a Libyan plane to Malta has ended peacefully.

The hijackers are probably of Libyan nationality, Muscat told reporters after the standoff ended.

'Then they lost communication with him, ' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

It is not clear why the plane was hijacked or what the demands of the hijackers are.

A 24-hour ordeal ended in a bloody massacre with 62 people dead when Egyptian commandos stormed the plane.

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