An Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 plane on internal flight in Libya with 118 people, 111 passengers and 7 crew members, on board has potentially been highjacked, reports said on Friday. Maltese media said that the plane has landed in Malta.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that he has received an information of potential hijack situation of flight that has been diverted to Malta.
Maltese media has reported that two hijackers on the flight have threatened to blow up the plane, while their demands are not yet known.
"Following news of plane hijacking with grave concern. My full cooperation to Govt to protect Malta security and the safety of passengers," Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said.
(This is a developing story)
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Here are the LIVE updates:
# Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody: PM Joseph Muscat
# Final crew members leaving aircraft with hijackers: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
Malta hostage situation: Hijackers releasing passengers (LIVE STREAM) https://t.co/j57BmcAhK4— RT (@RT_com) December 23, 2016
#Potentially 2 hijackers and some crew members still on board aircraft: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
#109 passengers released from hijacked Libyan plane: Maltese PM
#Further 44 passengers being released: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
#65 passengers released so far: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
#Release of second group of 25 passengers underway: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
Malta airport appears to be open again after closure. Earlier diversions continuing journey to Malta pic.twitter.com/UAv4xqRYTh— Plane Finder (@planefinder) December 23, 2016
# First 25 passengers released: Malta PM Joseph Muscat
#Passengers have begun disembarking from hijacked Libyan aircraft in Malta: AP
#Women, children released from hijacked Libyan plane: PM Joseph Muscat
#The office of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby at Malta International Airport awaiting instructions from the prime minister, who is in a meeting with the National Security Committee: AP
For what should have been a short internal flight turned into a hijack and diversion to Malta! pic.twitter.com/yO8mkocakK— Plane Finder (@planefinder) December 23, 2016
#Hijacker threatens to detonate hand grenade onboard Afriqiyah Airways flight 8U209 in Malta Intl Airport
#Malta Airport shut down and security forces surround hijacked Libyan plane: Reports
#Some Malta Intl Airport operations resumed as Afriqiyah Airways plane sits on runway: Reports
#82 men, 28 women and a child on hijacked Libyan plane: Reports
BREAKING: Pilot of Libyan plane told traffic control in Tripoli that plane was hijacked and he was not allowed to land there— The Int'l Spectator (@intlspectator) December 23, 2016
Hijacked aircraft still on runway whilst first departure on alternate runway takes off pic.twitter.com/oz8azV9mJn— Plane Finder (@planefinder) December 23, 2016
#All flights to Malta International Airport diverted until further notice: Officials
#BREAKING Tripoli confirms hijacked Libyan plane diverted to Malta— AFP news agency (@AFP) December 23, 2016
#Conflicting reports on the number of hijackers on board the flight. Some media outlets claiming two, while the Times of Malta reports one suspect
#The engines of the plane were still running and it was surrounded by soldiers, but no one is yet believed to have approached the plane, reports Times of Malta
Hijacked aircraft is still powered up and stopped on the runway in Malta pic.twitter.com/UwvM8UCTmX— Plane Finder (@planefinder) December 23, 2016
#The Afriqiyah Airways flight was flying from Sebha to Tripoli with 111 passengers and 7 crew members on board, reports rt.com
#"We think there's been an unlawful interference at our airport. All emergency police in the have been dispatched to the site [where the planehas landed]. At the moment we don't have information on what is happening on board," a spokesperson for Malta International Airport told The Independent.
#The “pro-Gaddafi,” hijackers have reportedly threatened to blow up the plane, one of the suspects possesses a hand grenade, reports Times of Malta
Following news of plane hijacking with grave concern. My full cooperation to Govt to protect #Malta security and the safety of passengers.— Simon Busuttil (@SimonBusuttil) December 23, 2016
BREAKING Hijacked Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320, on internal flight in Libya with 118 people on board, lands in Malta: Maltese media— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) December 23, 2016
Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi 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)