The guns and grenades used by two men who hijacked a Libyan plane and threatened to blow it up were fake. The hijackers, named as Libyans Suhah Mussa and Ahmed Ali, surrendered peacefully after several hours of negotiations at Malta International Airport.

The Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat, confirmed their weapons had been retrieved and upon examination were found to be replicas. Maltese soldiers also found a second pistol when they searched the aircraft.

The Afriqiyah Airways jet plane carrying 118 people took off from Sabha, Libya, at 11:10am local time (8:10am GMT) this morning. (23 December) . The hijackers took control of the aircraft and flew it over the Mediterranean Sea landing in Malta two hours and 20 minutes later. In a tweet posted at 11.01am, Malta International Airport confirmed an "unlawful interference at the airport".

The hijackers claimed to be armed with guns and a hand grenade and had threatened to blow up the aircraft. Muscat said his government had warned the hijackers to release all the passengers before there could be any negotiations. "This request was negotiated and eventually accepted, and passengers were released in consecutive groups."

65 people were allowed to leave the plane, followed by a further 44, including some crew. The hijackers then exited the plane along with the final crew members.

According to The Times of Malta the pair, in their twenties, who are supporters of Gaddafi were demanding political asylum in Malta.

The passengers are returning to Libya on another Afriqiyah Airways jet, while the hijackers are being interrogated, Sky News reports.