Libyan government forces arrive at Tripoli international airport to join in negotiations with the Al-Awfya brigade that overran the airport few hours earlier on June 4, 2012. The militia of Libyan ex-rebels seized control of the airport, surrounding planes with tanks and grounding all flights after their leader's apparent arrest, officials said. (Getty Images)
TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Clashes broke out between rival Libyan militias at Tripoli's international airport on Monday after gunmen drove armed pickup trucks onto the tarmac and surrounded planes, forcing the airport to cancel flights.
In a fresh challenge to the interim government's weak authority, members of the al-Awfea Brigade occupied the airport for several hours demanding the release of their leader whom they said was being held by Tripoli's security forces.
An Italian passenger who was due to fly out and later arrived at a Tripoli hotel described the situation as chaotic.
"There were about 200 of them who came into the airport, they were armed. We were waiting to board our flight and we could hear noises, people shouting," he said.