World Bulletin / News Desk
Libya closed its air space over Benghazi airport temporarily because of heavy anti-aircraft fire aiming at U.S. reconnaissance drones flying over the city, days after the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in an attack.
The closure of the airport prompted speculation that the United States was deploying special forces in preparation for an attack against the suspects who were involved in the attack.
A Libyan official said the spy planes flew over the embassy compound and the city, taking photos and inspecting locations of groups who are alleged to have planned and staged the attack on the U.S. consulate on Tuesday.
Fighters used anti-aircraft guns to fire at the drones, forcing the authorities to shut the airport because they feared for the safety of passenger planes.
"Two American drones flew over Benghazi last night with knowledge of the Libyan authorities," Deputy Interior Minister, Wanis al-Sharif told Reuters. "They were visible to the eye, and came under attack by anti-aircraft weapons used by armed militias."
"For this reason, Benghazi security decided to close down the Benghazi airport airspace. Any decision to allow an operation of any sort on Libya soil will be made in coordination with the congress and the new government."
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other Americans died after gunmen attacked the lightly fortified U.S. consulate and a safe house refuge in Benghazi on Tuesday night. The attack, which U.S. officials believe could have been planned in advance, emerged from a protest blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
Ali al-Shaikhi, spokesman for the Army Chief of Staff said Western allied forces, who helped Libyan rebels to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi last year, continued to fly planes and drones over Libyan airspace to help Libya keep its skies safe.
He said that they had increased flights in the past few days due to the worsening security situation.
"News came out that there were American drones in the air and so the airport received threats from unknown groups that they would attack any American planes circling over Benghazi. This led the airport to take the decision to close the airspace to take precautions."
The U.S. military was moving two destroyers toward the coast of the North African state, giving the Obama administration flexibility for any future action against threats, the officials said.
But a member of the Libyan national assembly told Reuters: "The Americans may have spoken to our President or Chief of Staff to coordinate an attack on the radical groups in Benghazi but they have not approached us as a Congress (assembly) yet."
"I believe that so far we as Libyans can take care of the operation ourselves because the militias feel they are part of Libyan society, but if we have Americans come in with an operation then these militias will also turn on us," he
"For sure we will need the Americans for their logistical and technical support and expertise, and we will ask them for it when the time comes. But for now we need to try to do it ourselves."
Airport manager Taba Mohammed said the closure ran for about 10 hours from 0030 GMT. U.S. officials said earlier a Marine Corps anti-terrorist squad was being sent into Libya to shore up security.
"We have now reopened the air space. It was closed for routine security checks," Mohammed told Reuters.
Turkish Airlines said the closure of Benghazi air space had forced one of its flights with 121 people aboard to turn back to Istanbul on Friday.
Police said the suspect, 25-year-old Alek Minassian, was not known to them before Monday's carnage in Canada's most populous city, which also left 15 people injured.
At least 41 Palestinians were martyred by Israeli gunfire on Gaza border since March 30
Talks are expected to tackle the possibility of U.S. troop withdrawal from war-torn Syria
Plans to roll out an appeals process globally in coming months came as Facebook provided a first-ever look at internal standards used to decide what posts go too far in terms of hateful or threating speech.
John Bolton led Gatestone Institute from 2013 until he took his White House position earlier this month
Attack ‘not part of a wider plot and there is no threat to national security’, says public safety minister
That vote, scheduled to take place at about 5:00 pm (2100 GMT), would not end the nomination, but would put a negative recommendation in the hands of the closely-divided full Senate -- where his approval is not guaranteed.
The company said in a message to customers that the attack was detected on January 14, at a time when the app had 14 million users in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan and Turkey, according to the economic news website Arabian Business.
We hope everyone remains fully committed to implementation and long-term preservation, says UN under-secretary-general
Obama, who met with Mandela in 2005 and who made an emotional address at his funeral, will speak at the lecture marking 100 years since the anti-apartheid icon was born.
A total of 41 Gazans have been martyred by Israeli gunfire since March 30
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL positions in Syria
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL locations in neighboring Syria
Turkish Historical Society head cites research from past wars
Palestinian president stresses on 2-state solution to conflict, calls East Jerusalem capital