Hijackers divert Libyan plane to Malta, threaten to blow it up
search

Hijackers divert Libyan plane to Malta, threaten to blow it up

Maltese PM says 109 of the 118 passengers on board the Afriqiyah Airways flight have been freed

A picture taken on December 23, 2016 shows a hijacked Airbus A320 operated by Afriqiyah Airways after it landed at Luqa Airport, in Malta. (AFP/Matthew Mirabelli)
A picture taken on December 23, 2016 shows a hijacked Airbus A320 operated by Afriqiyah Airways after it landed at Luqa Airport, in Malta. (AFP/Matthew Mirabelli)

VALLETTA, Malta — Two hijackers diverted a Libyan commercial plane to Malta on Friday and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades, Maltese authorities and state media said.

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 Friday long after the aircraft landed at 11:32 a.m. (1032 GMT).

State television TVM said the two hijackers on board had hand grenades and had threatened to explode them. All flights into the Mediterranean island airport were diverted.

Airport officials said the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 flight from Sabha, with original destination Tripoli, had 118 people on board.

Maltese police officers close off a road by Malta's Luqa International airport after an Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya landed at the airport in an apparent hijack on December 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Jonathan Borg)
Maltese police officers close off a road by Malta’s Luqa International airport after an Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya landed at the airport in an apparent hijack on December 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Jonathan Borg)

Within a few hours 109 of the passengers and crew were released, the island’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

Muscat said he believed only the hijackers and several crew members remained on board.

Muscat had tweeted earlier that there was a “potential hijack situation” involving an internal Libyan flight that was diverted to Malta and that emergency operations were underway at the airport.

Malta’s National Security Committee was coordinating the operation, a government statement said.

read more:
comments