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.
The PM said he was confident that a crucial EU-IMF reforms audit could conclude despite certain "absurd" demands.
President-elect expected to formally announce choice as early as next week
Republicans on Saturday rejected news reports about a secret CIA assessment finding that Russia sought to tip the US election in Trump's favor.
UN Security Council demands Gambia's Jammeh hand over power
Increased aggressiveness against ISIL could lead to heightened danger at home. Her message comes as Germany and its allies seek new ways to counter radicalism.
Worshippers were attending ordination for church’s founder
Arshad al-Salihi says only Turkey helped thousands of Turkmen who fled Iraq's Tal Afar to Syria's Azaz district
A young Muslim woman who was assaulted by three drunk men on the NY subway last week was reported missing and has now been located
Protesters demand Labour leader to say more on humanitarian aid in Syria
"The Colombian peace agreement is a ray of hope in a world troubled by so many conflicts and so much intolerance," he said.
Jerome Starkey of The Times was detained at airport without charge
John Kerry has said that the Syrian regime guilty of 'crimes against humanity, war crimes': Kerry
Al-Shabaab have claimed responsibility for attack which took place at Somali military base near Mogadishu
On September 22, 1979, the American Vela 6911 satellite designed to detect nuclear tests from orbit, observed a curious double flash originating near the Prince Edward Islands off the coast of Antarctica in the southern Atlantic.
PM Cazeneuve cites concerns over terrorist threats as France holds presidential and parliamentary elections next year
Many incoming cabinet members have railed against the worker protections and environmental and corporate regulations that President Barack Obama has enacted.