Hijackers of Libyan plane surrender

Hijackers threatened to blow up Libyan plane diverted to Malta (Courtesy TVM LIVE)

VALLETTA, Malta (AP) —  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.”

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).

Hijackers threatened to blow up Libyan plane diverted to Malta (Courtesy TVM LIVE)
Hijackers threatened to blow up Libyan plane diverted to Malta (Courtesy TVM LIVE)

State television TVM said the two hijackers on board had hand grenades and had threatened to explode them.

Airport officials said the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 flight from Sabha, with original destination Tripoli, had 118 people on board: Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat said that included 111 passengers, 82 men, 28 women and an infant.

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.

Muscat’s office confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby awaiting instructions from the prime minister, who is in a meeting with the National Security Committee.