- Sky News
Last update: 9:50 a.m. EST
- Sky News
Hijackers who diverted a Libyan plane to Malta have surrendered and been taken into custody, Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed on Twitter.
The airliner had been on a domestic flight in Libya when it was hijacked by men claiming to have a hand grenade.
The hijackers then diverted the plane to Malta, where they landed the plane safely and held 118 people – 111 passengers and seven crew members – hostage on the runway.
All of the passengers and crew members have been released safely.
The suspected hijackers, who apparently told the crew they were “pro-Gaddafi”, were reportedly threatening to blow up the plane if they weren’t given asylum in Malta.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising in 2011, and the country has been racked by factional violence since.
The aircraft’s engines were still running 45 minutes after it landed in late morning, the Times of Malta said.
- Google / Business Insider
Malta International Airport is now back in normal operation after closing entirely for 90 minutes. The hijacked plane was located on a secondary runway some distance from the main terminals, Sky News reported.
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 (300 miles) north of Tripoli.