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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hijackers Seize Airline, Surrender to Libyans

CAIRO -- Hijackers seized an Egypt Air jetliner Wednesday with 152 people aboard and forced the pilot to fly to Libya to request a meeting with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. They later surrendered, airport officials said.


The three hijackers, who surrendered to Libyan military authorities, left the plane followed by passengers, Cairo airport officials said.


The airliner had landed in Tobruk, a Libyan city on the Mediterranean Sea 110 kilometers west of Egypt. Most of the passengers were foreigners, including 17 Japanese, 59 Canadians and an undetermined number of French, Cairo airport officials said.


The hijackers commandeered the Airbus A320 after it stopped in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor en route from Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, to Cairo. Police said one hijacker entered the cockpit at 3:55 p.m. and insisted on going to Libya.


Cairo airport officials quoted the hijacker as saying, "Fly me to Tobruk because we want to meet Gaddafi."


The hijacker also promised not to hurt the passengers. Officials did not say what weapon he had.


The airport officials said the hijacker spoke Egyptian-accented Arabic. But other Egyptian officials, quoting Libyan authorities, identified the hijacker as a Saudi national, who said he had "demands of Gaddafi."


Egypt's state-run news agency said the hijackers also wanted to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and U.S. President Bill Clinton to demand an end to Israel's month-long closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They also reportedly wanted to discuss charges that Sudan was involved in the attempt on Mubarak's life last June.


Egyptian television said the hijackers claimed to have information on the assassination attempt.


Luxor is a popular tourist spot where many foreigners generally travel. It is south of the region where Moslem militants have fought the government in a four-year rebellion to install strict Islamic rule.


Tobruk's airport has been used only for domestic Libyan flights since the United Nations imposed a ban on flights in and out of the country in 1992. The sanctions were part of the United Nations' attempt to force Libya to turn over two suspects in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland.


The hijacking was the second in the region in four days.


On Sunday, two Sudanese men commandeered an airliner from Port Sudan to Asmara, Ethiopia. No one was injured and the hijackers surrendered after the plane landed.