Tags: Libyan | Plane | Hijacked

Hijackers of Libyan Plane Surrender After Freeing Passengers, Crew

Hijackers of Libyan Plane Surrender After Freeing Passengers, Crew

The hijacked Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya stands on the tarmac at Malta's Luqa International airport. (AP)

Friday, 23 December 2016 10:06 AM

Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, says the hijacking of a Libyan plane is over after the hijackers gave themselves up.

In a series of tweets, he said the hijackers left the airplane along with its final crew members after earlier freeing all the passengers from a flight that was diverted to his country.

The hijackers, he said, "surrendered," been "searched and taken in custody."

The aircraft had been on an internal flight in Libya on Friday morning when it was diverted to Malta, 300 miles north of the Libyan coast, after a hijacker told crew he had a hand grenade.

Initial reports said the hijackers had told crew he was "pro-Gaddafi" and that he was willing to let all 111 passengers leave the Airbus A320, but not its seven crew, if his demands were met, the Times of Malta said.

It was unclear what the demands were. Some media reports said there was more than one hijacker. Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising in 2011, and the country has been racked by factional violence since.

Troops took up positions a few hundred yards from the plane as it stood on the tarmac. Several other flights at Malta International Airport were canceled or diverted.

A senior Libyan security official told Reuters that when the plane was still in flight on Friday morning the pilot told the control tower at Tripoli's Mitiga airport it had been hijacked.

"The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused."

Large numbers of security officials could be seen at Mitiga airport after news of the hijacking.

The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, a route that would usually take a little over two hours.

The government of the tiny Mediterranean island, a European Union member, said Muscat had discussed the hijack with Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj by phone, and a negotating team had been formed and was at the airport. Britain offered Malta help with dealing with the incident.

The last major hijacking in Malta was in 1985, when Palestinians took over an Egyptair plane. Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft and dozens of people were killed.

© 2020 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

   
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Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, says the hijacking of a Libyan plane is over after the hijackers gave themselves up. In a series of tweets, he said the hijackers left the airplane along with its final crew members after earlier freeing all the passengers from a flight...
Libyan, Plane, Hijacked
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2016-06-23
Friday, 23 December 2016 10:06 AM
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