A Libyan Arab Airlines ATR 42 turbo-prop aircraft is heading back to Libya after having been denied permission to land at Malta International Airport.

The aircraft flew unexpectedly to Malta and when queried about landing permission, the pilot gave details about a flight which was supposed to have come to Malta yesterday.

Landing permission was immediately denied and the aircraft then circled for some 20 minutes south of Malta while attempts were made for the decision to be reversed.

The pilot eventually decided to return home.

Soldiers of the AFM's 'A' Company were seen entering the airport when the aircraft approached Malta.

It is understood that the plane had been carrying 14 passengers. There was no confirmation that the passengers included Aisha Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's daughter. A government spokesman said the government had no information of that sort. A government statement later denied that any confirmation had been made to Al Jazeera TV station.

Meanwhile soldiers are continuing to guard two Libyan Air Force Mirage F1 fighters whose pilots defected on Monday. The pilots are in custody.

Earlier this week, Lebanon refused to grant landing rights to a private plane transporting Aline Skaff, the Lebanese wife of Hannibal, one of Gaddafi's sons.

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