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Militia take over airport in Tripoli

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Airport officials negotiate with members of al-Awfea militia on the tarmac of Tripoli international airport in this still image taken from video. Photo: Reuters

Airport officials negotiate with members of al-Awfea militia on the tarmac of Tripoli international airport in this still image taken from video. Photo: Reuters

Airport officials negotiate with members of al-Awfea militia on the tarmac of Tripoli international airport in this still image taken from video. Photo: Reuters

militiamen yesterday took over over Libya's main airport, storming it with machine guns and armoured vehicles and forcing authorities to divert flights.

Mohammed el-Gharyani, a member of Tripoli Security Committee, said militiamen from the city of Tarhouna occupied the airport runway, angry at the arrest of their commander, Abu Elija, on Sunday.

Tarhouna was widely seen as a favourite of deposed ruler Muammar Gaddafi. Its dominant tribe, also called Tarhouna, held many positions in the Libyan military under Gaddafi. The city's residents are viewed with suspicion by former rebels.

Tribal rivalries have swept Libya since Gaddafi was overthrown last year.

Irish Independent