Libyan authorities regain control of airport | News | DW | 04.06.2012
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Libyan authorities regain control of airport

Libya's interior ministry has said Tripoli's International Airport is back in state control after rebels earlier in the day encircled planes and forced all planned flights to remain grounded.

Angered militiamen stormed the airport with heavy machine guns and armoured vehicles, forcing security officials to divert all incoming flights to the Metiga air base in the city's center.

Challenging the interim government's weak authority, rebel members of the al-Awfea Brigade took control of the airport for several hours demanding the release of their leader, Abu Elija, whom they claim is being held by Tripoli's security forces.

"The authorities have complete control over the airport," deputy interior minister Omar al-Khadrawi told journalists in the capital, adding that dozens of rebels had been arrested and were striped of their weapons.

At least 10 people were injured in the clashes the minister said, without giving further details.

Weeks before the upcoming election, Libya's new rulers are grappling to assert their control over an array of former rebel groups who refuse to adhere to the agreed ceasefire after last year's war that ousted Moammar Gadhafi.

jlw/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)