UPDATED: Hijacked Libyan plane - Hijackers surrendered

2016-12-23 15:20
An Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya stands on the tarmac at Malta's Luqa international airport. (Jonathan Borg, AP)

An Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya stands on the tarmac at Malta's Luqa international airport. (Jonathan Borg, AP)

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Valletta -

15:15 Updated

Women and children are being released from the hijacked Libyan plane in Malta, the island's Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Friday.

"First group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now," he said on Twitter.

15:21

Malta PM: 25 passengers have left hijacked Libyan plane and more are disembarking .

16:17

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said a total of 109 passengers had been released from the hijacked Libyan plane which landed in Malta on Friday.

Muscat said an initial group of 25 women and children released from the plane were quickly followed by nearly all of the 118 people on board the Airbus A320 jet.

16:52

The hijackers of a Libyan plane that landed in Malta earlier on Friday have left the aircraft and surrendered after releasing all the passengers and crew, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

"Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody," Muscat tweeted.


A hijacked plane from Libya landed on the Mediterranean island of Malta on Friday with 118 people including seven crew on board, Malta's prime minister and government sources said.

The Airbus A320 had been on a domestic Libyan route operated by Afriqiyah Airways from Sabha in the south to the capital Tripoli but was re-routed.

"The Afriqiyah flight from Sabha to Tripoli has been diverted and has landed in Malta. Security services co-ordinated operations," said Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Twitter.

Libya confirmed the plane had been diverted.

Malta International Airport tweeted: "MIA confirms there is an unlawful interference at the airport. Emergency teams dispatched".

The plane could be seen on the tarmac surrounded by military vehicles and all flights have been cancelled.

Maltese government sources said a single hijacker was on board and had told crew that he had a grenade. The hijacker said he would release the passengers as long as his as yet unspecified demands were accepted.

Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi left warring militias battling for control of different parts of the country.

Forces loyal to a fledgling national unity government recently took control of the coastal city of Sirte, which had been a bastion for the Islamic State group since June 2015.

Western powers have pinned their hopes of containing jihadism in the energy-rich North African state on the government but it has failed to establish its authority over all of the country.


Read more on:    libya  |  malta  |  hijackings

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