Hijackers of Libyan plane surrender in Malta

2016-12-23 17:39
Hijackers diverted a Libyan commercial plane to Malta and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades. (TVM via AP)

Hijackers diverted a Libyan commercial plane to Malta and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades. (TVM via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Valletta - Hijackers claiming to have a grenade took over a Libyan plane on Friday and diverted it to Malta before releasing everyone onboard and surrendering to authorities, officials said.

"Final crew members leaving aircraft with hijackers," Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter.

Minutes later he added: "Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody".

Libyan Foreign Minister Taher Siala said the two hijackers were supporters of slain dictator Muammar Gaddafi and had requested political asylum in Malta.

Siala, from Libya's internationally backed Government of National Accord, said the hijackers have also said they want to set up a pro-Gaddafi political party.

The plane landed at 11:32 (10:32 GMT) in Malta.

After more than an hour on the tarmac, the door of the Airbus A320 opened and a first group of women and children were seen descending a mobile staircase.

Dozens more passengers were released minutes later following negotiations that Maltese government sources said were led by the head of Malta's military.

In all there were 111 passengers, including 28 women and a baby, on board, as well as seven crew members.

Maltese government sources had earlier said only a single hijacker was believed to be on the plane.

The aircraft had been on a domestic Libyan route operated by Afriqiyah Airways from Sabha in southern Libya 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-ordinating operations," Muscat tweeted earlier.

Libyan airlines banned in Europe

Muscat later spoke to Libya's prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj, the head of the north African country's fledgling unity government, the Maltese prime minister's office said.

The plane could be seen on the tarmac of a secondary runway surrounded by military vehicles.

All flights in and out of the airport were initially either delayed or diverted to destinations in Italy, though some later took off and landed.

Malta International Airport said there had been "an unlawful interference" but operations had now resumed.

An Afriqiyah Airways source said the two hijackers had threatened the pilots with an explosive device, probably a grenade, forcing them to continue to Malta instead of landing at Tripoli's Mitiga airport.

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

Forces loyal to a 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.

A rival authority rules the country's far east, backed by the forces under military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar who have been battling jihadists in second city Benghazi.

Only local airlines - banned from European airspace - operate in Libya, with flights to Tunis, Cairo, Amman, Istanbul and Khartoum.

Read more on:    libya  |  malta

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Man scores date with tennis superstar after Twitter bet

It’s a modern day Cinderella story, but one American man took ‘shoot your shot’ seriously in 2017.

 
 

You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
5 top leg exercises for men
10 best dressed men of 2017
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.