BENGHAZI / ANKARA (AA):- All passengers and crew of the hijacked Libyan plane have been released and the hijackers detained, Joseph Muscat, the Maltese prime minister has indicated on Twitter.
“Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody,” he tweeted Friday.
The passengers had been gradually released up to the hijackers’ surrender.
“Potentially 2 hijackers and some crew members still on board aircraft,” Muscat had tweeted.
“It has been established that #Afriqiyah flight has 111 passengers on board. 82 males, 28 females, 1 infant,” Muscat had written earlier.
“The #Afriqiyah flight from #Sabha to #Tripoli has been diverted and has landed in #Malta. Security services coordinating operations,” he wrote.
A Tripoli-based source told Anadolu Agency that the kidnappers of the hijacked plane had threatened to blow up a homemade bomb to force the crew to head to Malta airport.
The source, who requested anonymity, said the information came from colleagues at the control tower of Mitiga Airport in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. The source added that information about how the plane was hijacked and the potential weapon used was revealed by pilot to the control tower.
The two kidnappers demanded political asylum in Malta, an official of Afriqiyah Airways told Anadolu Agency
“The safety and security of our passengers is our top priority. While some flights have been delayed or diverted, airport operations have been resumed,” Malta International Airport said in a statement.
“MIA can confirm that there is an unlawful interference at the airport. All emergency teams have been dispatched to the site,” it added.
[Photo: Malta security forces go into the hijacked Afriqiyah Airways A320 as it lies on part of the runway of the Malta International Airport, Luqa Malta, 23 December 2016. Photographer: Muhabiri Domenic Aquilina/AA]