Images surfaced online this week of militants posing with the jetliners taken when they overran Tripoli airport last month in a fierce battle that left much of the airport and its aircraft damaged.
A U.S. official familiar with the reports told the Beacon: "There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing. We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes."
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The developments come as an Islamist militia seized a U.S. Embassy residence in Tripoli over the weekend, posting video online of men playing in a pool at the compound. In late July, U.S. diplomats evacuated the compound and the Capitol to neighboring Tunisia under a U.S. military escort as fighting between rival militias intensified and thousands fled.
In the past four months, a renegade general has battled Islamic militants in the eastern city of Benghazi — cradle of the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi — as powerful regional militias have fought for control of the Tripoli airport. Islamist-allied militias have seized virtually all of the capital.
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Meanwhile, 150,000 people have fled the country, and another 100,000 have been internally displaced, according to a U.N. report released Thursday.
—By Katharine Lackey, USA Today. The Associated Press contributed to this report.