Government takes back Tripoli airport from ex-rebels

Government takes back Tripoli airport from ex-rebels

Libyan authorities wrested back control of Tripoli International Airport from ex-rebels who seized the runway on June 4, surrounding planes and grounding all flights after their leader’s apparent arrest, officials said.

The raid was carried out by gunmen who fired into the air and slightly wounded an airport employee, causing panic among travelers, according to the official LANA news agency. “Cars mounted with anti-aircraft guns and armed men are surrounding the aircraft and preventing them from moving,” an official told Agence France-Presse, adding that some passengers were forced to leave planes.

Flights diverted
The motive of the gunmen was to pressure the government to explain the whereabouts of their leader, Abu Ajila al-Habshi, according to LANA.

Tripoli’s security commission said it had nothing to do with “the disappearance and abduction of Colonel Abu Ajila al-Habshi” and that it was still tracking those responsible.The attack forced the diversion to Tripoli’s Matiga military air base of some flights, including to and from Istanbul, Rome, Vienna and Amman according to officials and flight monitoring websites. The ruling NTC is still struggling to fully integrate many Libyans who fought forces loyal to Gadhafi before he was ousted and killed in October last year.

The ministries of defense and interior have integrated many of them into their ranks but some are still a law unto themselves.