The Libyan army regained control of the Tripoli international airport late on Monday after it had been briefly seized by a militia group, Al-Arabiya news agency reported.
“The authorities have complete control over the airport,” Al-Arabiya quoted Deputy Interior Minister Omar al-Khadrawi as saying.
“Some of the assailants fled and others turned themselves in without resistance,” the official said, adding that between 30 and 40 people were arrested.
The al-Awfea Brigade, a group of former Libyan rebels, on Monday drove armed pickup trucks onto the runway and surrounded planes, demanding the release of one of their leaders who they suspected was being held by the authorities in Tripoli.
Libya’s National Transitional Council immediately ordered the interior and defense ministries to “use all means necessary, including force,” to retake the airport.
The interim government is clearly struggling to assert control over numerous groups of ragtag fighters who still refuse to lay down arms after last year’s rebellion that ousted Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
One person was killed and several were wounded when the government headquarters in Tripoli came under attack by a group of disgruntled former fighters in May.
Last November, about 100 militiamen briefly delayed a takeoff of a Tunisian passenger plane at Tripoli's Mitiga airport in an anti-government protest.