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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armed militia took control of Libya Tripoli airport

With machine guns and armored vehicles a Libyan militia took control of the international airport in Tripoli on Monday, forcing flights to be diverted to the military airport of the capital, said a security official. The official said the militia, called al-Awfea Brigade, the city of Tarhouna, 80 km southeast of Tripoli, demanded the release of one of their leaders, who claimed to have gone last night. "The situation is very tense at the airport and tanks are surrounding the buildings. Not permitted entry to anyone inside the building," said the official, who declined to be identified. An airport customs official said the flights were canceled and the aircraft would enter the country were diverted to the airport Metiga in downtown Tripoli. The spokesman of the current government's National Transitional Council, Mohammed al-Harizy, said the militia chief Colonel Abu al-Hebeishi Elija was kidnapped by unknown armed rebels, while traveling between Tarhouna and Tripoli on Sunday evening. Tarhouna was widely seen as favored by Muammar Gaddafi , who was killed in October by rebels who overthrew his government. His dominant tribe, also called Tarhouna, held many positions in the Armed Forces of Gaddafi. The city's residents are viewed with suspicion by former rebels. Tribal rivalries swept Libya since Qaddafi deposition. Much of the fighting put militias who fought against Gaddafi those who have remained loyal to the regime. Tarhouna The group was engaged in sporadic clashes with other militias in cities like Misrata and Tripoli. The airport attack came just two weeks before the date of the country's first general elections since 1969, when Gadhafi seized control of power in a military coup. On June 19, the Libyans are called upon to elect 200 members of the Assembly to oversee a new constitution and form a government. Officials of the electoral commission and the government recently gave contradictory statements about the possibility of elections being postponed, given the fragile security situation in Tripoli and in many other cities. Also there were calls to boycott the election in the east, where the uprising began against Gaddafi.Many residents of the eastern claim greater representation in parliament.

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