Tripoli, 2 September 2013:
An angry passenger caused a security scare at Tripoli International Airport in the early hours of this morning, after an argument with crew on a Benghazi-bound flight turned ugly.
Crew on the Buraq Air flight called in airport security to help when the passenger became violent on board the aircraft, according to the Ministry of Defence. The security response to the incident then sparked rumours in the local press and on social media networking.
“It is not true that an armed group stormed the runway,” spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence, Abdurazaq Mohamed Al-Shebahi told the Libya Herald, “they just wanted to maintain security after the passenger had a fight with members of the plane’s crew”.
Some airport sources, however, say that the plane was held up by a distraught passenger wielding a gun. The man had reportedly been intending to take his sick mother for treatment in Tunisia on a Buraq flight, but arrived too late to catch the plane.
Furious and distraught about missing the flight, he apparently went out onto the runway and held up a Buraq flight to Benghazi with a gun.
The incident had a knock-on effect, causing disruption to other flights and leaving hundreds of people stranded at the airport. Another Buraq flight, to Alexandria, was apparently also held at the airport and Afriqiyah flights were diverted to Mitiga Airport. Shebahi said that everything was now back to normal.
Buraq flights have been subject to disruption at Tripoli International Airport on a number of occasions this year. In June, an aircraft was evacuated after a late passenger forced his way onto a flight and in April, a Buraq Boeing 737 was hit by a stray Kalashnikov bullet, believed to have come from celebratory gunfire at a wedding.