Report: Hijackers release passengers of Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane

The tail portion of Afriqiyah Airwayss Airbus A320-200 sporting the signature livery of the airline as parked in the tarmac, file photo from Wikipedia user/contributor Maher27777.

VALLETTA, Dec. 24 — Fresh wire reports said potentially two suspected hijackers and some of the seven crew members of hijacked Afriqiyah Airways still remained on board a Libyan plane, Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said Friday on Twitter.

All of the 109 passengers have earlier been released by the group.

The Libyan plane flying a domestic route in Libya was hijacked and landed at Malta International Airport at 11:32 a.m. local time.

The Afriqiyah Airways flight departed the southern Libyan city of Sebha in the morning, originally on its way to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

At this point, it is not known what hijackers’ requests are.

Citing Arab sources, Maltese national TV station TVM reported that the two hijackers, armed with explosive devices, were from southern Libya.

Much earlier, it was reported that the Libyan airplane with 111 passengers on board and flying a domestic route in Libya, was hijacked and landed in Malta on Friday morning.

The Afriqiyah Airways plane departed the southern Libyan city of Sebha at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, originally on its way to the Libyan capital Tripoli.

It has 111 passengers on board, 82 males, 28 females, and one infant, Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter.

Muscat has convened an emergency meeting to coordinate the security operation.

All passengers and crew were still on the plane. While local media reported that hijackers had released all passengers on board, but still held the seven crew members.

There were two hijackers on board. Local media said the hijackers appeared to be supporters of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and armed with hand-grenades.

At this point, it is not known what hijackers’ requests are.

Malta’s Armed Forces are on standby. Soldiers have surrounded the plane. The engines are still running.

According to Malta’s media, Libyan Transport Minister was in negotiations with the hijackers. The Libyan authorities also confirmed that the airplane has been hijacked.

About one and a half hours after the Libyan plane landed, Malta International Airport said operations have resumed although some flights had been delayed and diverted.

Passengers are advised to check for updates before coming to the airport, Malta airport said in a statement.

Related story with video below:

H/T- Wikipedia, CNN, Xinhua

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