The Maltese have successfully ended a plane hijacking freeing all 117 hostages and arresting two hijackers who diverted the plane from Libya.
The hijacking of a Libyan plane to Malta has ended peacefully.
An internal Afriqiyah airways flight, an Airbus A320 with seven crew and 111 passengers on board was on its way from Sebha in southwest Libya to the capital, Tripoli on Friday morning.
Shortly before landing the pilots contacted the control tower to tell them their plane had been hijacked by two men armed with grenades. The hijackers then demanded to fly on to Malta. They are reportedly members of the Tebu minority from southern Libya.
Negotiations were led by the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, who obtained the
release of all the hostages safe and sound, and the crew members, who the hijackers had vowed not to give up until their demands were met. For hours the plane sat on the tarmac of Malta’s airport with its engines running as talks continued.
The men reportedly told passengers they were “pro-Gaddafi”, and were demanding the release from prison of one of the sons of the former Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in 2011. One passenger also said he had been told by one of the men that they wanted the creation of a “pro-Gaddafi” political party. But once all the hostages had been released, they surrendered and are now in custody.
Malta was once conveniently placed on air lanes for it to be a haunt of plane hijackers, but the last one here was in 1985. It ended in carnage when Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft and killed all the terrorists and many passengers.