30 arrested after Libyan airport standoff
June 5, 2012 -- Updated 0909 GMT (1709 HKT)
Libyan government forces arrive at Tripoli international airport on June 4, 2012.
- The government deploys 5,000 security forces
- Authorities arrest 30 militia members
- Security checkpoints spring up around Tripoli
- Earlier militia members seized the airport over a dispute with the national government
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) -- Libyan authorities arrested 30 militia members Monday after the group stormed Tripoli's airport, demanding the release of a rebel leader, the nation's labor minister said.
The government deployed 5,000 security forces to the airport area and regained control of the facility, Mustafa A. Rugibani said later in the day.
After Tarhouna militia forces seized part of the airport, armed militia members escorted passengers to cars, describing it as an evacuation of the terminal, according to local journalists who have worked with CNN in the past.
Black smoke rose from fires set in the runway area, and sporadic gunfire could be heard.
Tripoli airport reportedly seized
Government security checkpoints sprang up around the city on Monday amid tension over the airport standoff.
The whereabouts of the militia leader whose release the group was demanding was unknown.
Officials at a Cabinet meeting determined that the militia leader had not been detained by the government, Rugibani said, and questioned whether word of his disappearance may have been a ruse by the militia to create a pretext for the airport standoff.
But militia members at the airport earlier Monday disputed that possibility, saying they would withdraw forces only after government officials released the rebel leader.
National Transitional Council spokesman Mohammed al-Haraizi was quoted by the official Libyan Arab News Agency as saying the NTC "condemns the kidnapping of Colonel Abu Ajaila al-Habshi, calling on the specialized authorities to investigate the incident."
Al-Haraizi said in a statement that, on Sunday evening, a force at a checkpoint into Tripoli near the airport stopped a force led by al-Habshi comprising two tanks and a number of armed vehicles, LANA said. It added that al-Habshi had been authorized by the army chief of staff to take the tanks to a base in Tripoli.
"After documents were checked, the force was allowed to move, but an unidentified force intercepted al-Habshi and kidnapped him," it said.
Al-Haraizi added that al-Habshi's men had gone to the airport believing he was being held there.
"After negotiations and convincing the group that the state does not have al-Habshi and does not know where he is, the force left the airport and it is now under the full control of the national army and security forces," he said.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
Today's five most popular stories