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Pro-Gaddafi fighters hijack plane, surrender after standoff

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A picture taken on December 23, 2016 shows a Malta armed forces truck sitting by the Afriqiyah Airways A320 after it landed in Valletta, Malta, following its hijacking from Libya. A man who said he was armed with a grenade hijacked a Libyan plane which landed on Malta Friday with 118 people on board, Malta's prime minister and government sources on the Mediterranean island said. After more than an hour on the tarmac, the plane's door opened and a first group of women and children were seen descending a mobile staircase. "First group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now," Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter, adding in a later tweet that 50 passengers in all were being let off the plane. PHOTO: Matthew Mirabelli / AFP

A picture taken on December 23, 2016 shows a Malta armed forces truck sitting by the Afriqiyah Airways A320 after it landed in Valletta, Malta, following its hijacking from Libya. A man who said he was armed with a grenade hijacked a Libyan plane which landed on Malta Friday with 118 people on board, Malta’s prime minister and government sources on the Mediterranean island said. After more than an hour on the tarmac, the plane’s door opened and a first group of women and children were seen descending a mobile staircase. “First group of passengers, consisting of women and children, being released now,” Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter, adding in a later tweet that 50 passengers in all were being let off the plane. PHOTO: Matthew Mirabelli / AFP

A Libyan passenger plane was landed in Malta after being diverted by two hijackers believed to be armed with hand grenades.

The Afriqiyah Airways aircraft with about 111 passengers on board was on an internal flight in Libya when it was hijacked and diverted.

The hijackers, Mousa Shas and Ahmed Ali, between the ages of 24 and 25 years, loyal to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, seized the plane as it made an internal flight over the African country, after which they ordered the pilot to land on the Mediterranean island of Malta, resulting to a tense standoff with the military.

All flights to and from Malta’s airport were cancelled or diverted during the stand-off, and security forces gathered near the plane, which sat on the runway with its engines still running long after it had landed.

The four-hour standoff ended when the two men, who reportedly claimed they wanted to launch a new political party, came out of the Afriqiyah Airways plane with a crewmember that was their final hostage.

The hijackers eventually gave themselves up and were taken into custody

According to Joseph Muscat, the Prime Minister of Malta, “Hijackers surrendered, searched and taken in custody.” He said on Twitter, after the passengers and crew on board were allowed to leave the plane in batches.

As negotiations were underway, one of the hijackers told Libya’s Channel TV in a phone call that he headed a party supporting the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and had organised the uprising to promote the group.



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