Internal Libyan flight diverted to Malta after being hijacked by 2 pro-Gaddafi supporters
A Libyan passenger plane has been hijacked by two pro-Gaddafi supporters armed with hand grenades, it has been reported.
The Libyan Afriqiyah Airways A320 plane is believed to have 118 people on board, with the hijacking first confirmed by Malta’s Prime Minister on Twitter.
Joseph Muscat wrote that he has been told of the hijacking of an internal Libyan flight travelling from Sebha to Tripoli which was diverted to Malta mid-flight.
It is understood that the plane’s engines are still running and carries 111 passengers and 7 crew members.
Differing reports suggested between one and two hijackers are on board, with at least one claiming to be in possession of a hand grenade.
He is said to be pro-Gaddafi and willing to let all passengers leave the plane apart from the crew if his demands – which are unclear – are met.
The Malta airport authority said all emergency teams have been dispatched to the site of what it called an ‘unlawful interference’ on the airport tarmac.
The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is about 300 miles north of the Libyan coast.
The last time a hijacked plane landed in Malta was in 1985, when EgyptAir Flight 648 was taken over by three Palestinian members of the terrorist group Abu Nidal.
The subsequent raid on the aircraft by Egyptian troops resulted in the death of 58 passengers, with only one of the three hijackers surviving.
The hijacking of planes was a common tactic by terrorist organisations during the last 20th century, most notoriously when two aircraft were flown into New York’s Twin Towers in September 2001.