Libyan plane hijackers free women, children among 65 passengers in Malta, but stand-off continues


Valletta: Amid high drama, the hijackers of a Libyan commercial plane, which was diverted to Malta on Friday, have allowed 65 passengers, including 25 women and children, to deboard from the aircraft.

The Airbus A320 of the state-owned Afriqiyah Airways with 118 people aboard was hijacked midair and diverted to Malta on Friday.

The two hijackers are reportedly armed with hand grenades and have threatened to blow up the plane.

According to Maltese media reports, the hijackers have released 25 women and children passengers from the plane.

TV visuals also show the passengers have begun disembarking from the hijacked aircraft.

Soon after the aircraft landed in the Mediterranean island nation, a high-security alert was sounded.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in a tweet message said it’s a “potential hijack situation”.

“Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM”, he twitted.

Maltese government sources told AFP there were 118 people on board the plane, including seven crew.

The plane was flying from Sebha to Tripoli, when it was hijacked and taken to Malta.

(With agency inputs)