Passengers from hijacked Libyan plane freed in Malta

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Themorningbellbd.com desk, December 23: Two hijackers with hand grenades threatened to blow up a Libyan passenger plane that was diverted from the north African country to Malta on Friday, reports The USA Today quoting the state TV.

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said 109 passengers have disembarked the aircraft so far and the crew were also being released.

Serraj al-Fitouri, an official from Libyan state-owned airline Afriqiyah Airways, said the hijackers said they were willing to release the passengers but would keep the pilot, the Associated Press reported.

The Airbus A320 touched down in the Mediterranean island nation at around 11:30 a.m. local time, Malta Today reported.

Muscat said there were 111 passengers aboard — 82 males, 28 females and one infant. The Times of Malta said it also had seven crew members.

Authorities said a negotiating team was on standby. All flights in and out of Malta were canceled.

The plane left the southwestern Libyan city of Sabha for the capital, Tripoli, on a domestic flight that was supposed to take just over an hour but was diverted to Malta International Airport, Malta Today reported.

Soldiers surrounded the plane, whose engines were still running, The Times of Malta said.

It said reports indicated that a hijacker, who said he was a supporter of the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, claimed to have a hand grenade and said he was willing to release all the passengers if his demands were met.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the demands are.

Source: Agencies

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