Malta armed forces say a special operations team has seized a tanker that was hijacked by migrants and it is now heading to a Maltese port with the migrants and crew.

Malta armed forces said Thursday that control of the vessel was returned to the captain and it was being escorted and monitored to Malta, where the migrants will be handed over to police for investigation.

Authorities in Malta and Italy said the migrants had hijacked the cargo ship after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea and forced the crew to put the Libya-bound vessel on a course north toward Europe. The tanker had rescued about 120 people before it was taken over in what Italy's interior minister described as "the first piracy on the high seas with migrants."