Libya transport minister defends air security

2016-12-23 21:00


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Tripoli - Libya's transportation minister is defending airport security in the country after a plane was hijacked and diverted to Malta.

Milad Matouq says security breaches happen everywhere and Libya is no exception. He says this is the first such incident since the 2011 revolution.

He says Maltese authorities are questioning the passengers and doing security checks in case a hijacker is among them.

Passenger Ibrahim Bashir tells Al-Nabaa TV that the passengers are "trapped" inside the buses and not allowed to leave.

The head of Libya's state-run culture agency says a total of 25 artists, writers, and intellectuals from southern Libya were among the passengers and were heading to Tripoli to participate in a culture forum.

Meanwhile, a Libyan lawmaker says he is not surprised that a plane from the desert oasis city of Sabah was hijacked to Malta, because security measures are "messy" at the Tamanhet airport there.

The Sabha airport was closed after tribal clashes two years ago and its air base was turned into a civilian airport for internal Libyan flights only. A small militia from the city of Misrata in northwestern Libya has been guarding it since 2014.

Salah Qalma, a lawmaker from Sabah, says "it's very easy for anyone to enter without passing through the electronic gates." While the airport has an electronic gate at its arrival hall, there are no electronic gates or guards at the adjacent exit gates.

He also said the building has no fence or guards outside it and planes are not separated from the parking lot outside the airport.

Read more on:    libya  |  malta  |  air travel  |  north africa

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