Libyan plane hijacked, lands in Malta with 118 on board

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An airliner on an internal flight in Libya was hijacked by a man claiming to have a hand grenade on Friday and diverted to Malta, where it landed with 118 people on board.

A media report said the hijacker told the crew he was “pro-Gaddafi” and that he was willing to let all 111 passengers leave the Airbus A320, but not with its seven crew, if his demands were met.

The captain of the Libyan passenger plane that was forced to land in Malta has informed the control tower that its hijackers are threatening to blow it up with a home-made explosive device.

It added that it was unclear what the demands were or whether the hijacker was acting alone.

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 metres from the plane as it stood on the tarmac and no one was seen boarding or leaving it.

The aircraft’s engines were still running 45 minutes after it landed.

It said that all other flights at Malta International Airport were canceled or diverted.

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 tiny Mediterranean island of Malta, a European Union member, is about 500 km north of Tripoli.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said the security and emergency operations are already on standby.

(Reuters/NAN)


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