Real-life Libya plane hijack halts hijack film shoot

media captionSoldiers board the plane in Malta

A film being shot at Malta airport about a plane hijacking was disrupted amid the real hijacking of a Libyan Airbus A320, an official told the BBC.

"It's very ironic because then there was the real hijack on," said Magda Magri Naudi, the mayor of Lija.

The movie - Entebbe - is based on a hostage situation that occurred 40 years ago in Uganda.

Unlike that hijacking, the two hijackers in Friday's incident surrendered peacefully to police.

In 1976, Israeli forces freed 105 hostages in a surprise raid at Uganda's Entebbe airport, killing about eight hostage-takers and 20 Ugandan troops.

According to internet movie data base, IMDB, Entebbe - which is expected to be released next year - stars Rosamund Pike, Vincent Cassel and Daniel Bruhl.

Ms Naudi said the Entebbe film crew had to halt filming on the airport grounds when the Libyan Afriqiyah Airways plane landed at Malta International Airport.

The domestic flight with 118 people on board had taken off from Sabha and had been bound for the Libyan capital Tripoli.

The mayor of Lija said that the Maltese armed forces were well able to cope with such events.

"We've had five hijackings landing here and ironically today they were actually filming Entebbe on the airport grounds - and that had to be stopped," she told BBC World TV.

The Malta Friday hijacking ended peacefully within a few hours after all the hostages were released

But in Uganda in 1976 the hostage situation dragged on for about a week after Palestinian hostage-takers hijacked the flight from Tel Aviv to Paris and diverted it to Entebbe.

The Air France had 250 passengers - with many of whom were Israeli - and 12 crew. The hijackers demanded that release of 54 militants held by Israel and four other countries and a $5m ransom.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe Entebbe hostages were rescued after about a week

In one of the most daring operations in its history, Israel secretly despatched a unit of elite commandos - led by Yonatan Netanyahu, the brother of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - to rescue the hostages.

They flew eight-and-a-half-hours over 4,000km (2,500 miles), through hostile territory and beneath the scope of enemy radar, to mount a surprise raid.

The commandos killed all the hostage-takers as well as 20 Ugandan troops before flying the freed passengers and crew back to Israel.

Three hostages lost their lives in the operation, as well as Yonatan Netanyahu, the only fatality among the troops.

A TV movie was produced of the dramatic events the following year, called Raid on Entebbe.

The Times of Malta reports that then-Prime Minister Dom Mintoff banned its screening because it "glorified violence".

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