The prime minister of Malta has said he is aware of a "potential hijack situation."

Libyan aircraft hijacked Lands in Malta with 118 passengersTwitter/reinitzstore
news Hijacking Friday, December 23, 2016 - 17:09

UPDATE: All passengers on board have left the aircraft. 

An Libyan aircraft with some 118 people on board has landed in Malta after it was hijacked, local media reported. The prime minister of Malta has said he is aware of a "potential hijack situation."

The state-owned Afriqiyah Airways A320 jet was flying an internal route from Sebha to Tripoli carrying 118 people on board, the "Times of Malta" reported.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wrote that he was aware of a possible hijacking situation on Twitter.

"Informed of potential hijack situation of a Libya internal flight diverted to Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by," the tweet read.

Informed of potential hijack situation of a #Libya internal flight diverted to #Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM

— Joseph Muscat (@JosephMuscat_JM) December 23, 2016

Two hijackers appear to be on board, the Malta airport authority said.

The airport added that all emergency teams had been dispatched to the site of what it called an "unlawful interference" on the tarmac.

 

MIA confirms there is an unlawful interference at the airport.Emergency teams dispatched.Visit https://t.co/Lf8i8e8s6L for flight info.

— Maltairport (@Maltairport) December 23, 2016

The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is located around 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast.

Troops are positioned a few hundred meters from the plane, but no one has been seen entering or leaving the aircraft.

The pilot of the Afriqiyah Airways plane told the Tripoli control tower that the aircraft had been hijacked, a senior security official at Tripoli's Mitiga airport told Reuters news agency.

"The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused," the official added.

Flights in or out of the airport were initially delayed or diverted - including a Lufthansa flight - but airport operations have meanwhile resumed. The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is located around 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast.

The last major hijacking in Malta took place in 1985 when Palestinian militants took over an Egyptair plane. Dozens of people were killed when Egyptian commandos stormed the aircraft.

 

This is a developing story.

(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)

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