Malta plane hijack: Passengers being let off Libyan airliner

A picture taken on December 23, 2016 in Valletta, Malta, shows a group of hostages being released from the Afriqiyah Airways A320 after it was hijacked 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. / AFP / Matthew Mirabelli / Malta OUT (Photo credit should read MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Update:

Two hijackers aboard a Libyan plane that was forced to land in Malta on Friday have threatened to blow up the aircraft with grenades, Maltese officials said.

The hijackers, who took over the Afriqiyah Airways flight with 111 passengers on board, have begun allowing passengers to leave the plane.

Latest developments

  • 65 passengers have been released from the plane so far.
  • Malta’s armed forces are leading the negotiations with the hijackers.
  • Foreign ministry says there is no word on their demands yet.
  • There are seven crew members on board.
  • Flight was scheduled to travel from Sabha to the Libyan capital, Tripoli.

MALTA – Authorities in Malta are dealing with the “potential hijack” of a Libyan airliner, its prime minister said Friday. Local media said 118 people were believed to be on board.

The plane, an internal Libyan flight operated by Afriqiyah Airways, landed at Malta’s international airport, where emergency and security personnel were waiting.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted that he had been “informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by.”
A Maltese Ministry of Foreign Affairs communications officer, Etienne Saint John, told CNN that the plane landed “a few minutes ago.”
“Security personal are on the scene. There is an ongoing meeting at the Prime Minister’s office regarding the plane.”
Developing story – more to come