It took until evening for the authorities to regain control of theairport when loyalist forces stormed it after negotiations with themilitiamen broke down, deputy interior minister Omar al-Khadrawitold journalists. Flights were not expected to resume for at least 24 hours becauseof the damage caused to the airport’s infrastructure. The assault by the militiamen on the Libyan capital’s main gatewayto the outside world underlined the massive task facing theauthorities in reintegrating the disparate armed groups that tookpart in the overthrow of now slain dictator Moamer Kadhafi’s regimelast year. The raid was carried out by gunmen who fired into the air andslightly wounded an airport employee, causing panic amongtravellers, according to the official LANA news agency. “It is total confusion.
Everyone is fleeing,” an official at theairport told AFP, adding that several armoured vehicles werepositioned on the tarmac blocking traffic. “Cars mounted with anti-aircraft guns and armed men are surroundingthe aircraft and preventing them from moving,” another officialsaid, adding that some passengers were forced to leave planes. The motive of the gunmen was to pressure the government to explainthe whereabouts of their leader, Abu Ajila al-Habshi, according toLANA. Tripoli’s security commission, which answers to the interiorministry, said it had nothing to do with “the disappearance andabduction of Colonel Abu Ajila al-Habshi” and that it was stilltracking those responsible. The attack forced the diversion to Tripoli’s Matiga military airbase of some flights, including to and from Amman, Istanbul, Romeand Vienna, according to officials and flight monitoring websites.
Trucks mounted with heavy weapons were parked under some airlinersand gunmen shuttled in and out of the luggage hall which opens outonto the tarmac, an AFP correspondent reported. “Members of the Al-Awfya brigade entered the plane. They were fullyarmed and they forced us off,” Ahmed Loshta, a Tripoli resident whohad been due to fly to Italy, told AFP. Dozens of pickup trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns arrived onthe scene shortly before sunset. Their arrival was followed byintermittent salvos of gunfire, an AFP journalist at the scenereported. Volvo Turbo Kits
Loyalist forces took action after negotiations broke down, thedeputy interior minister said. “The authorities have complete control over the airport,” Khadrawitold reporters after the operation, adding that dozens ofassailants were arrested and stripped of their weapons. The ruling National Transitional Council had authorised theinterior and defence ministries, who oversee a broad constellationof brigades made up of former rebels, to “use all means necessary,including force,” to retake the airport. “Some of the assailants fled and others turned themselves inwithout resistance,” he said, adding between 30 and 40 people werearrested. Scania Turbocharger Manufacturer
Khadrawi said the “saboteurs” also blew up a hangar and set fire tofields surrounding the airport. “We will alert airline companies that the airport will be shut overthe next 24 hours,” he said, adding that technical issues, such asthe rupture of communication lines, needed to be fixed beforeflights could resume. The ruling NTC is still struggling to fully integrate many Libyanswho fought forces loyal to Kadhafi before he was ousted and killedin October last year. The former rebel fighters have remained in organised armedbrigades. China Turbo Gasket Kit
The ministries of defence and interior have integratedmany of them into their ranks but some are still a law untothemselves. The NTC took control of Tripoli airport in April from a Zintanbrigade that had been guarding the facility since the capital’sliberation in August 2011. Such militias secured many strategic sites in Libya after theydefeated Kadhafi loyalists backed by NATO-led air strikes duringlast year’s Arab Spring-inspired revolution. The NTC has called for their handover, but several other similarmilitias of former rebels are still guarding important buildingsand facilities in the North African country. Monday’s assault on Tripoli airport came as Libya prepares to holdelections for a 200-seat constituent assembly by June 19, aspledged by the NTC.
Flashes of violence, such as a deadly raid on governmentheadquarters last month, have raised concerns over the capacity ofauthorities to secure the first election after decades underKadhafi. Armed clashes broke out late Monday between military police and amilitia group in the eastern city of Benghazi after a youth waskilled at a checkpoint, a security source said. Fighting was continuing around midnight (2200 GMT) near themilitary police headquarters after a young militia member was shotdead at a police checkpoint to the west of the town.