Hijackers of Libyan plane surrender in Malta

Earlier the prime minister of Malta confirmed that passengers and crew members had been allowed to leave the plane

Hijackers of Libyan plane surrender in Malta

An Afriqiyah Airways plane from Libya stands on the tarmac at Malta's Luqa International airport. Picture by Jonathan Borg AP/Press Association Images

The Maltese prime minister has announced that hijackers who diverted an internal Libyan flight and landed in the Mediterranean country have surrendered.

Earlier the hijackers allowed 109 passengers to walk off the Afriqiyah Airways flight in Malta - followed shortly later by a number of crew members.

The prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat took to social media to confirm the stand-off was at an end.

Earlier while confirming that several groups of passengers had been released, Mr Muscat said that "potentially" two hijackers and some crew members remained on board the plane.

Initial reports said the hijackers had hand grenades and threatened to blow up the aircraft - it is not clear what the demands are.

The Libyan passenger aircraft, was on an internal flight from Sabha in southern Libya to Tripoli when it was diverted to Malta.

An airport security official said the pilot had told Tripoli airport that the plane was being hijacked before communications were lost.

He said: "The pilot reported to the control tower in Tripoli that they were being hijacked, then they lost communication with him.

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

Mr Muscat earlier said that there were 82 males, 28 females and an infant on board.

A Malta airline official said the plane had first headed towards Malta but turned back towards Tripoli before then flying to Malta.

Mr Muscat earlier tweeted that he had been informed of a "potential hijack situation" involving an internal Libyan flight diverted to Malta.

Airport officials said emergency teams had been sent to the site of what they described as "unlawful interference".

Malta state TV has reported that the hijackers have hand grenades and have threatened to blow up the Airbus A320 plane.

All flights in and out of Malta had been cancelled.

Fabian Demicoli from the Maltese news organisation Net News says the government has taken steps to increase security at the international airport.

"All flights to Malta International Airport are being diverted to Palermo and Catania airports in Sicily," he said.