Malta Prime Minister has informed about a "potential hijack situation" involving an internal Libyan flight which has been diverted to Malta.
An airliner on an internal flight in Libya was hijacked and diverted to Malta where it landed on Friday, Maltese media reported. 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. Two hijackers had threatened to blow up the Airbus A320, which had 118 people aboard, outlets including the Times of Malta said. The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways.
Here are the live updates:
08:12 PM: Hijackers have surrendered and was later searched and taken into custody, confirmed the Malta Prime Minister.
07: 50 PM: All passengers including 7 crew members have been released from the hijacked plane, reported the Maltese Media.
07:20 PM: All passenger successfully released from the hijacked plane. Two hijackers along with some crew members are still in the aircraft.
07:05 PM: Release of another 44 passengers underway, informed the Malta PM.
06: 50 PM: 65 passengers have been released from the plane so far, informed Malta PM Joseph Muscat.
06: 45 PM: Release of the second group of 25 passengers underway. About 50 passengers have been released so far.
06:15 PM: First group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now, informed Malta Prime Minister.
Earlier Friday, Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said in a tweet that there was a ‘potential hijack situation’ involving an internal Libyan flight that was diverted to Malta and that emergency operations are underway at the airport. The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is about 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted: “Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM”.
— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016
Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi left warring militias battling for control of different parts of the country. Forces loyal to a fledgling national unity government recently took control of the coastal city of Sirte, which had been a bastion for the Islamic State group since June 2015.
Western powers have pinned their hopes of containing jihadism in the energy-rich North African state on the government but it has failed to establish its authority over all of the country. A rival authority rules the country’s far east, backed by the forces under military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who have been battling jihadists in second city Benghazi.
(With inputs from Agencies)