Libyan Hijacked Afriqiyah Airways diverted to Malta with 118 people onboard, warning airport impasse
December 23, 2016-LONDON
A Libyan hijacked aircraft with 118 people onboard landed Friday on the Mediterranean island of Malta, where troops furrowed the aircraft. Aircraft officials opened negotiations with even after some of the passengers were freed.
As per the report, the two hijackers had threatened to blow up the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320, which was on a domestic flight in Libya when it diverted to Malta.
After the two hours of the aircraft landing, a footage showed passengers, women and children were allowed to get off from the aircraft but Male passengers and crew were continued to be held as detainees. The footage also noted the Army troops were on the runway to monitor the aircraft.
According to a report, the hijackers claimed to be from a Libyan faction called Fatah al-Gadida, and were willing to release all passengers — but keep the crew on board — if their demands were met.
But the group was described in reports as loyal to the tumbled regime of Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. Sabha, the southern Libyan city where the flight took off, has been the scene of ongoing clashes between rival tribes.
The Sabha region is also known as a hub for arms smuggling and traffickers captivating migrants from Libya and other points in Africa on the 400-mile journey to the Mediterranean for clandestine ships destined for Europe.
The hijacking brings another security crisis to the European Union just days after an attack on a Berlin Christmas market which killed 12 people. The main suspect in the Berlin attack, a Tunisian, was killed in a shootout with Italian police on Friday.
The state-run airline flight was bound for Libya’s capital, Tripoli. The plane was initially carrying 111 passengers, including 82 men, 28 women and an infant, Muscat said.
Malta International Airport deferred outgoing flights and diverted incoming ones.