Valletta (Malta): A man claiming to have a hand grenade today hijacked a Libyan aircraft with 118 people on board, including 82 men, 28 women and an infant.
According to media reports, the hijacker told the crew he was “pro-Gaddafi” and that he was willing to let all 111 passengers leave the Airbus A320, but not its seven crew, if his demands were met.
The whole Libya country has been racked by factional violence since after former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed in an uprising in 2011.
Although it was unclear whether the hijacker is alone or some other is involved with him and what were the demands.
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat confirmed on Twitter that “The #Afriqiyah flight from #Sabha to #Tripoli has been diverted and has landed in #Malta. Security services coordinating operations.”
He added: “It has been established that #Afriqiyah flight has 111 passengers on board. 82 males, 28 females, 1 infant.”
An unnamed official of the Libyan foreign ministry told the agency, all passengers aboard the plane were in good health.
The official added, “(Libyan) Foreign Minister Mohammed Sayala has immediately started intense contacts with his Maltese counterpart and the government there.”
Security personnel have been beefed up from few hundred metres from where the plane is standing and no one was seen boarding or leaving it.
It said, the aircraft was running 45 minutes late after it landed and all other flights at Malta International Airport were cancelled or diverted.
The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, a route that would usually take a little over two hours.
The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is about 500 km north of the Libyan coast.
The last major hijack incident in Malta took place in November 23, 1985, when an EgyptAir Boeing 737 plane was diverted to the island nation.