World Europe 23 Dec 2016 Hijack negotiating t ...

Hijack negotiating team on standby in Malta, security forces surround plane

AP
Published Dec 23, 2016, 5:50 pm IST
Updated Dec 23, 2016, 5:51 pm IST
The office of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby.
In this frame grab taken from television a hijacked Afriqiyah Airways A320 sits on the tarmac at Malta International airport. (Photo: AP)
 In this frame grab taken from television a hijacked Afriqiyah Airways A320 sits on the tarmac at Malta International airport. (Photo: AP)

Valletta:  Two hijackers diverted a Libyan commercial plane to Malta on Friday and threatened to blow it up with hand grenades, Maltese authorities and state media said.

The office of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has confirmed that a negotiating team is on standby at Malta International Airport awaiting instructions from the prime minister, who is in a meeting with the National Security Committee.

 

Airport officials said the Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 flight has 118 passengers on board. They also said all emergency teams had been dispatched to the site of what it called an "unlawful interference" on the airport tarmac. The plane's engines were still running Friday long after the aircraft landed at 11:32 am.

All flights into the Mediterranean island airport have been diverted. Maltese Premier Joseph Muscat said that those onboard included 111 passengers, 82 men, 28 women and an infant.

Muscat had tweeted earlier that there was a "potential hijack situation" involving an internal Libyan flight that was diverted to Malta and that emergency operations were underway at the airport.

 

Malta's National Security Committee was coordinating the operation, a government statement said.

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