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Passengers From Hijacked Libyan Plane Return Home From Malta

Passengers disembark from the hijacked Libyan flight on the runway at Malta airport.

The passengers from a hijacked Libyan flight that was diverted to Malta, have left Malta early on December 24 and are returning home, Maltese Interior Minister Carmelo Abela said.

Keith Schembri, chief of staff of the office of Malta’s prime minister, tweeted that the “hijack saga comes to an end,” adding that the crew and passengers are “all safe and sound on their way back to Tripoli.”

Two Libyan hijackers had diverted the domestic flight to Malta on December 23 to seek asylum in Europe and create a new political party in honor of former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, Maltese officials said.

The standoff ended peacefully after two hours of negotiations.The hijackers freed all 117 people on board and walked off the plane to surrender. They are expected to face charges later on December 24.

The state-owned Afriqiyah Airways plane took off from the southern Libyan city of Sabha and was due to land in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before it was diverted to Malta.

Qaddafi was ousted and later killed in 2011 during the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East.

Based on reporting by AP