A Libyan passenger plane has been hijacked by two pro-Gaddafi fanatics, armed with hand grenades. The A320 aircraft, which belongs to Afrigiyah Airways, is understood to have 118 people on board.
According to reports, there are 82 men, 28 women and a child on board the craft, which touched down in Malta at 11.32am. The pilot is understood to have tried to land in Libya, but the hijackers refused. AFM soldiers have been seen at a distance and it does not appear that anyone has yet approached the craft.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed the hijcking, saying he has been told that n internal Libyan flight, which had taken off in Sebha and should have been heading to Tripoli, was diverted to Malta mid flight.
Currently, the plane’s engines are still understood to be running, with 111 passengers and seven members of crew on board. While some reports say one hijacker is on board, others say there are two. They are claiming to have a hand grenade. It is understood the hijackers are threatening to blow up the plane.
The hijacker is understood to have claimed to be pro-Gaddafi, and has said he will let passengers off, but not the crew if his demands are met. However, it is not currently known what those demands are.
All emergeny teams at the airport have been dispatched to the scene. Malta stands just 300 miles away from Libya. It is not the first time that a hijacked plane has touched down in Malta. In 1985, the Egypt Flight 648 was hijacked by three terrorists from the group Abu Nidal, with a raid on the plane by troops leading to dozens of deaths.
All flights to and from Malta have currently been cancelled while the incident is ongoing. The Libyan transport minister is said to be negotiating with the hijackers.