Libyan authorities have arrested about 50 people after last week’s killing of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens in a mob attack in the city of Benghazi, Libya’s parliament chief said Sunday, saying it was planned by foreigners.
“The number reached about 50,” Mohammed al-Megaryef, president of the Libyan National Congress, told CBS News in an interview.
Stevens and and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday when suspected Islamic militants fired on the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city with rocket-propelled grenades and set it ablaze.
Megaryef said “a few” of those who joined in the attack were foreigners, who had entered Libya “from different directions, some of them definitely from Mali and Algeria.”
“The others are affiliates and maybe sympathizers,” he added.
Megaryef said the government has learned the attack was not the result of a spontaneous outburst of anger over a U.S.-made anti-Islam movie which has triggered sometimes deadly protests in the Arab and Muslim world.
“It was planned, definitely, it was planned by foreigners, by people who entered the country a few months ago. And they were planning this criminal act since their arrival,” he told CBS.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said in a statement the attack was in revenge for the killing of the terror network’s deputy leader Sheikh Abu Yahya al-Libi in a drone strike in June.
Air traffic strikes
Meanwhile on Sunday, flights to and from Libya’s international airports in Tripoli and Benghazi were suspended due to a strike by air traffic controllers, said aviation sources.
The decision to strike was made at about 10:00 am without prior warning to airlines, the sources added, forcing a Tunisair flight to remain grounded at Benina airport in the eastern city of Benghazi.
On Friday, air traffic was temporarily suspended to Benghazi for what officials said were security reasons, following an attack three days earlier on the U.S. consulate in the city in which four Americans, including the ambassador, died.