Valletta, December 24: Two hijackers on Friday claimed of having hand grenades and hijacked a Libyan plane and diverted it to Malta. Like to tell you that, the domestic flight with 118 people on board was hijacked just after taking off from Sabha, bound for the Libyan capital Tripoli. But soon after the plane landed in Malta, hijackers peacefully surrendered before security forces and also released all the hostages.
As soon as the hijacked plane landed in Malta, security forces were straight away deployed and surrounded the plane. But after few hours, the hijackers opened the door of plane and released a first group of women and children were seen descending a mobile staircase. Dozens more passengers were released minutes later. Within an hour all the hostages were released. Hijackers also surrendered. Malta International Airport was closed and all flights were diverted while the incident was on-going.
The hijackers, later named as Suhaha Mussa and Ahmed Alid, claiming to be from a pro-Gaddafi group, had said they were willing to let all passengers go apart from the crew, if their demands were met. It is still not known what were their demands though as the drama unfolded it appeared to be result of the bitter Libyan political feud rather than an act of terrorism.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat initially said that the men had been armed with pistols and a grenade - but later tweeted that the weapons appeared to be replicas. Muscat said neither of the men, believed to be of Libyan nationality, had made any demands.
He told a press conference: "The two hijackers have been detained in custody and interrogations are ongoing. The rest of the crew and passengers are also being questioned to ascertain events. "Once this interrogation process is completed over the next few hours arrangements will be made to send the passengers and the crew members back to Libya with another Afriqiyah aircraft," he added.
The claim was reinforced at 2.50pm when one of the hijackers was seen at the aircraft door waving the former green Libya flag. But a Libyan minister was later quoted as saying that the two hijackers were seeking political asylum in Malta, a claim later rejected by Dr Muscat, Maltese Prime Minister.