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 clashes had broken out in Silwan neighborhood after Israeli troops raided the homes of the relatives of a Palestinian driver accused of running over and killing a baby and injuring eight people
A baby was killed and eight people were injured when a Palestinian driver ran over passengers in Jerusalem
It was the second flare-up this week and comes weeks after Britain and France agreed to improve border controls
A Canadian soldier was shot at the Canadian War Memorial in Ottawa and the parliament building attacked in which gunshots were fired
Widodo had originally planned to announce his cabinet of 33 ministers on Tuesday, said his team would be made up of 18 technocrats and 15 political appointees.
A 13-year-old boy was detained after hurling stones at Israeli cars in the Al-Tur neighborhood, three other Palestinian boys, aged between 14 and 16, were detained for throwing rocks at Israeli police vehicles in the Beit Hanina district.
Iranian demonstrators gather in front of Isfahan Department of Justice building to protest acid attacks against women in the street.
The Ansar al-Sharia group wrote on Twitter that its fighters had killed 30 Houthi militants in attacks on their homes in Rada'a city on Tuesday.
Iraq's Kurdish parliament unanimously votes to deploy Peshmerga forces in Syrian town of Kobani besieged by ISIL militants.
The attack sparked clashes between the settlers and local residents, which ended upon the arrival of Israeli army troops.
Palestinian negotiators still studying Egypt's proposed agenda for the upcoming talks.
Ozdil Nami warns of increasing tensions after Greek Cypriot Administration, Israel and Russia conduct military drills between Crete and Cyprus
There were no immediate reports on the number of casualties from the fighting there, but the militant advance appears to have been halted.
Crowds gathered at the U.N. base calling for peacekeepers to leave the town after two people were shot dead on Tuesday during a protest
The accused leader of the group, a Qatari man, was sentenced to 30 years in jail, after which he would be expelled from Saudi Arabia, while the other 12 were jailed for between 18 months and 18 years
Zoabi said the Syrian air force was searching for the third jet but had destroyed two of them, the first time Damascus has acknowledged that ISIL are flying the aircraft.