Libya Malta hijack: Hijackers arrested as drama ends peacefully

Agency Report

The hijacking of a Libyan plane has ended peacefully after armed men who seized control surrendered in Malta.

The domestic flight with 118 people on board was hijacked after taking off from Sabha, bound for the Libyan capital Tripoli.

Instead, the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 was diverted to Malta International Airport.

It appears the two hijackers are supporters of Libya’s late deposed leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Pictures of them kneeling on the tarmac with their hands up appear to show the moment they were arrested by the Maltese authorities.

All the passengers – including one infant – and a number of the crew had already been released.

Speaking at a press conference after the men were arrested, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat revealed the men had been armed with a pistol and a grenade.

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A search of the aircraft following their arrest revealed a second gun.

Mr Muscat said neither of the men, believed to be of Libyan nationality, had made any demands.

He told the press conference: “The two hijackers have been detained in custody and interrogations are ongoing. The rest of the crew and passengers are also being questioned to ascertain events.

“Once this interrogation process is completed over the next few hours arrangements will be made to send the passengers and the crew members back to Libya with another Afriqiyah aircraft.”

Taher Siala, the foreign minister of Libya’s internationally backed Government of National Accord, said the hijackers wanted to set up a pro-Gaddafi political party.

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BBC.COM