After several tense hours, the stand-off between the authorities and Libyan plane hijackers in Malta has thankfully ended peacefully. 

All 118 people on board, passengers and crew, were removed from the plane completely unharmed, as were the hijackers.

ICYMI last night: a plane, which was travelling from domestically from Sebha in south-west Libya to Tripoli on the north coast, was hijacked by two men with a grenade and pistols. 

The aircraft, carrying 111 passengers and 7 crew members, was landed in Malta, entered into a terse negotiation with police. 

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has now publicly confirmed that all passengers and crew were removed from the plane, and the hijackers had been taken into custody. 

Muscat had tweeted progress of the operation through the entire incident, including regular updates of how many were left on board as buses regularly arrived to take a few hostages at a time back to the airport. 

The PM confirmed that police have actually been able to question the Libyan hijackers, and also confirmed that many of the weapons they brought on the plane were convincing replicas. 

A motive for the hijacking has still not yet been established: Libyan media reports that the men were part of a new pro-Gaddafi political group, while other reports say the two men were seeking asylum in Malta due to it being a European nation. 

Initial reports of the story said that the allegedly pro-Gaddafi hijackers had threatened to blow up the plane unless their demands were fulfilled, but their demands were never made clear. 

Authorities have confirmed that a full investigation into the incident will go down to establish the cause. 

Source: ABC.

Photo: Steve Zammit Lupi / Times Of Malta.