Maltese troops survey a hijacked Libyan Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A320 on the runway at Malta Airport, December 23, 2016. REUTERS/Darrin Zamit-Lupi

An Afriqiyah Airways A320 with around 120 people on board has just landed in Malta after it was hijacked. The plane was on an internal flight from Sebha to Tripoli and diverted by two hijackers who claimed to have a hand grenade.

A total of 111 passengers – 82 men, 28 women and an infant – and seven crew members are on board the aircraft which landed in Malta at 11.32am.

A Libyan security official told Reuters that the pilot told Tripoli Airport Control before communications were lost that the pilot tried to Land in Libya but the hijackers refused.

  • UPDATE 1445 UTC All passengers & crew released. Hijackers surrendered, searched & taken into custody.
  • UPDATE 1430 UTC Hijackers asking for asylum in Malta.
  • UPDATE 1253 UTC Hijackers of @AfriqiyahAAW plane agree to lay down arms and release passengers (reports).
  • UPDATE 1218 UTC “The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him,” a senior security official at Tripoli’s Mitiga airport has told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused.”
  • UPDATE 1113 UTC The plane’s engines were still running and it was surrounded by AFM soldiers at a distance. It did not seem anyone had yet approached the plane.
The reports indicated that two hijackers are on board. They are claiming to be in possession of a hand grenade.

The hijackers, claiming to be pro-Gaddafi group Al Fatah Al Gadida, said they were willing to let all passengers go apart from the crew, if his demands were met.

It is not known what their demands are at this stage.

International media are reporting that the Libyan transport minister is negotiating with the hijacker.

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