Maltese soldiers seize tanker hijacked by migrants

Maltese special forces soldiers are seen on the merchant ship Elhiblu 1 after it arrived in Senglea, in Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta, March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

A Turkish oil tanker hijacked by migrants has arrived safely in Malta.

A Maltese special forces soldier guards a group of migrants on the merchant ship Elhiblu 1 after it arrived in Senglea, in Valletta’s Grand Harbour, Malta, March 28, 2019. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The cargo ship Elhiblu 1 picked up 108 migrants who were attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe.

It is believed some of the migrants hijacked the vessel when it became clear that the captain planned to take them back to Libya.

The Maltese Navy intercepted the vessel and prevented it from entering the island nation’s territorial waters.  Police eventually boarded the boat and arrested four men. The remaining migrants were boarded onto buses, witnesses say.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Twitter that the nation’s armed forces had conducted a “sensitive operation on high seas.”

“We do not shirk responsibility despite our size,” he said, pledging to follow international rules.