Libyan plane hijacked

This item appears on page 17 of the February 2017 issue.

Two men armed with pistols and a grenade, later determined to be fake, hijacked an Ariqiyah Airways flight with 118 people on board flying between the Libyan cities of Sabha and Tripoli, diverting it to Malta International Airport. 

The two men held all the passengers and crew as hostages but did not make any demands, only waving a Muammar Gaddafi-era Libyan flag while parked on the tarmac. (Gaddafi was the leader of Libya from 1969 until he was deposed and executed during an uprising in 2011.) The two men eventually released all the hostages and surrendered peacefully.

Most airports in Libya are not under direct government control but are, instead, held by rebel groups, causing security to be a concern. Flights originating in Libya have not been allowed in European airspace for more than two years.