VALLETTA: An airliner on an internal flight in Libya was hijacked and diverted to Malta where it landed on Friday, Maltese media reported.
The Airbus A320 was flying inside Libya for state-owned airline Afriqiyah Airways with 118 people aboard, the reports said. The two hijackers had threatened to blow the plane up.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”.
The aircraft had been flying from Sebha in southwest Libya to Tripoli for state-owned Afriqiyah Airways.
The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is about 500 km (300 miles) north of the Libyan coast.
Libya has been in a state of chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Moamer Kadhafi left warring militias battling for control of different parts of the country.
Forces loyal to a fledgling national unity government recently took control of the coastal city of Sirte, which had been a bastion for the Islamic State group since June 2015.
Western powers have pinned their hopes of containing jihadism in the energy-rich North African state on the government but it has failed to establish its authority over all of the country.
A rival authority rules the country’s far east, backed by the forces under military strongman Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who have been battling jihadists in second city Benghazi.
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