Libyan plane crisis ends, hijackers surrender

Maltese troops survey a hijacked Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016. (Reuters)

Hijackers who took over a domestic Libyan flight on Friday and forced it to land in Malta have surrendered, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

The hijackers were searched and taken into custody, Muscat said on his Twitter feed.

One of the men who hijacked a Libyan internal flight and diverted it to Malta told Libyan TV on Friday that he was the head of a party supporting late leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The man, who gave his name as Moussa Shaha, told Libya’s Channel TV station by phone that he was the head of Al-Fateh Al-Jadeed, or The New Al-Fateh. Al-Fateh is the name that Gaddafi gave to September, the month he staged a coup in 1969, and the word came to signify his coming to power.

A Libyan lawmaker who spoke to one of the passengers also said the two hijackers were demanding the creation of a pro-Gaddafi party. Images circulating in the media appeared to show a hijacker stepping out of the plane with a green flag similar to those used by Gaddafi supporters

All the passengers were released  from the the Libyan hijacked plane.

The Airbus A320 was flying inside Libya for state-owned airline Afriqiyah Airways with 118 people aboard, the reports said. The two hijackers had threatened to blow the plane up, outlets including the Times of Malta reported.

Al Arabiya sources said one deputy from the Libyan House of Representatives is on board of the hijacked plane.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted: “Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM”.

People disembark from a hijacked Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zamit-Lupi MALTA OUT

People disembark from a hijacked Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zamit-Lupi MALTA OUT

Latest developments:

Malta airport says plane from Libya has landed and that there appear to be 2 hijackers on board. The Malta airport authority said all emergency teams had been dispatched to the site of what it called an “unlawful interference” on the airport tarmac.

Earlier Friday, Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said in a tweet that there was a “potential hijack situation” involving an internal Libyan flight that was diverted to Malta and that emergency operations are underway at the airport.

Meanwhile, Malta’s state television says two hijackers who diverted a Libyan commercial plane to the Mediterranean island nation have threatened to blow it up. The Malta airport authority said all emergency teams had been dispatched to the site of what it called an “unlawful interference” on the airport tarmac.

The plane’s engines were still running. State television TVM said the two hijackers on board had hand grenades and had threatened to explode them. All flights in and out of Malta have been canceled. Airport officials said the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 flight has 118 passengers on board.
 

  • Tripoli confirms hijacked Libyan plane diverted to Malta
  • Pilot of Afriqiyah Airways plane told Tripoli Airport that flight was being hijacked, says airport security official
  • Malta state TV says two hijackers on diverted Libya plane have hand grenades and threatening to blow up aircraft

 

(With agencies)

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Last Update: 06:49 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49
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