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Libya’s plane hijacking ends with hijackers seeking asylum

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CAIRO — All 109 passengers, including crew members on board a hijacked Libyan airliner en route to Tripoli, were released on Friday, as the two hijackers surrendered, who claimed of carrying explosives forced the plane to divert to Malta, Malta’s prime minister said.

The two hijackers have been taken into custody. It is being said that the hijackers belong to a group that supported Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are now seeking asylum in Europe.

The Maltese prime minister reported that the hijackers first a group of 25 women and children were released, afterwards a second group of 25 people was released.

The hijackers claimed to that they belong to a new political party, named Al Fateh Al Jadeed — a reference to the 1969 coup in in which Colonel Qaddafi came to power. “We did this to announce and publicize our new party,” one of the men said in a telephone interview with a Libyan news outlet.

According to a senior Afriqiyah Airways official, the hijackers had demanded visas for Europe, suggesting that they might only be intending to seek asylum and are not linked to radical militant groups.

“We feared they might be some of those ideological people, but that seems not to be the case,” said the official, Capt. Abdelatif Ali Kablan, the chairman of the airline, speaking by telephone from Tripoli.

This is the second of this year of a passenger jet in the Mediterranean region. In March also, an Egyptian man hijacked a domestic Air flying to and forced it to land in Cyprus, therein he demanded the release of political prisoners in and a meeting with his estranged wife.

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