Special police and military units have taken control of a tanker that was hijacked by more than 100 migrants – days after it had rescued them from the sea off the Libyan coast.
The intervention took place as the Turkish-registered bunkering tanker Elhiblu 1 was steaming towards the Maltese capital Valletta.
Police say that all of the migrants were successfully arrested.
According to the captain, the migrants seized control of the ship when they were told they would all be returned to Libya. They then demanded that the vessel sail north towards Europe.
In a statement after the arrests, the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) emergency communications with the captain were begun while the ship was still heading towards Malta.
The captain told the AFM that he was no longer in control of the vessel and that he and his crew were being forced and threatened by the migrants to change course.
A patrol vessel stopped the tanker as it entered Maltese territorial waters, and an armed special operations team – supported by naval vessels and helicopters – quickly stormed aboard to secure the vessel.
It is not yet clear what will now happen to the migrants.