An airliner on an internal flight in Libya was hijacked by a man claiming to have a hand grenade and was diverted to Malta where it landed on Friday, Maltese media reported.
The plane flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli, for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways, had 118 people on board. Other flights at Malta International Airport were cancelled or diverted, it said.
The hijacker told 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 Times of Malta said.
Troops took up positions a few hundred metres from the plane as it stood on the tarmac and no one was seen boarding or leaving it.
“The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him,” a senior Libyan security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters.
“The pilot tried very hard to have them land at the correct destination but they refused.”
Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat tweeted: “Informed of potential hijack situation of a Libya internal flight diverted to Malta. Security and emergency operations standing by -JM”.