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Published: Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 7:01:15 PM
Updated: Tuesday February 18, 2014 MYT 7:02:42 PM

Armed guards force airport closure in eastern Libya's Benghazi

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) - Security guards forced Benghazi airport in eastern Libya to close on Tuesday, airport officials said, demanding months of unpaid wages as well as an investigation into a helicopter crash in the region last week.

Members of an armed unit in charge of protecting the airport blocked the runway and prevented staff from entering the passenger terminals, according to an airport official who said he was in contact with the group.

The guards also complained that they had not received their salaries for several months, the official said.

Libya is in turmoil as the government of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan struggles to control heavily armed militias who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but have kept their weapons to make financial and political demands.

Most oil export ports in the east have been closed since armed protesters seized them in summer to press for a greater share of oil revenues and political autonomy.

(Reporting by Ayman al-Warfalli and Ghaith Shennib; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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