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DRAMA IN MALTA

Passengers allowed off hijacked Libyan plane

VALLETTA, Malta, December 23, 2016

Most passengers have been allowed off a hijacked Libyan jet that has landed at the Malta International Airport.
 
The aircraft had been on an internal flight in Libya on Friday morning when it was diverted to Malta, 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast, after a hijacker told crew he had a hand grenade, said  a BBC report.
 
Malta's Prime Minister has said only some of the crew remain on board the domestic Afriqiyah Airways flight but it remains unclear how many hijackers there are.
 
At least one man claiming to have a hand grenade threatened to blow up the plane, according to local reports.
 
The Airbus A320 which was flying from Sabha to Tripoli when it was diverted.
It is believed that 118 people were aboard the plane.
 
Initial information suggests the hijacker is trying to claim political asylum in Malta, the mayor of Sabha, Colonel Hamed al-Khayali, told the BBC.
 
But a Libyan member of parliament who spoke to a colleague on board the flight told Reuters news agency the demands were not yet known.
 
Col Khayali also said there was only one hijacker - although some reports say there are two.
 
He added there were 111 passengers on board the Airbus A320, plus seven crew members.
 
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that his country's security forces were standing by. He said on Twitter that the passengers list included 82 men, 28 women and one baby.



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