Libyan factions battle over airport

Last updated 00:00 04/08/2014
libya
REUTERS
DESTRUCTION: A fighter from Zintan brigade watches as smoke rises after rockets fired by one of Libya's militias struck and ignited a fuel tank in Tripoli.

Relevant offers

Africa

At least 39 dead in Somalia market bombing Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe refuses to retire and wants to pinch Donald Trump's policy Robert Mugabe's wife says he could run in election 'as a corpse' Six South Africans killed at naval base after sewer gas leak Armyworm pests invade southern Africa 'like one of the 10 plagues of the Bible' Former Zimbabwe secret police officer who murdered for Robert Mugabe stuck in limbo in NZ Fatal stampede at football stadium as gates give way under weight of fans The unlikely industry that's thriving in this Egyptian village Newly discovered gecko has a quick-release mechanism for escaping predators Islamist gunmen kill four guards in hotel attack in Somalia

More than 20 people died on Saturday in battles between two Libyan armed factions who have been fighting for nearly three weeks for control of the international airport in Tripoli, the government said.

Fighting in the Libyan capital had quietened down on Sunday morning, but a huge plume of black smoke from a burning fuel depot darkened the sky above the city, still on fire from being hit by a rocket the day before.

Most Western governments have evacuated their embassies after clashes erupted in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi, fearing Libya is sliding back into civil war three years after the uprising that ousted Muammar Gaddafi.

"Tripoli's hospitals received 22 bodies and 72 people were wounded," Libya's government said in a statement on Sunday.

"Mediating committees are still trying to stop the violence and return Tripoli to normal. They have faced difficulties because of the stubbornness of the militias attacking the city."

Islamist-leaning brigades allied to the western port town of Misrata are attacking the airport with rockets and artillery to oust rivals from the mountain town of Zintan who have controlled the airport since the fall of Tripoli in 2011.

Misrata and Zintan rebel fighters once battled side by side to topple the country's dictator. But three years on they have refused to disarm and their rivalries have exploded in a violent struggle over who dominates post-Gaddafi Libya.

In Benghazi, an alliance of Islamist fighters and ex-rebels have banded together to battle Libyan armed forces, seizing a special forces military base last week and pushing the army outside of the city.

Libya's government and weak military have been unable to control the armed factions, who are often semi-official forces approved and paid by ministries and who control huge stockpiles of Gaddafi-era weapons, tanks and missiles.

Ad Feedback

- Reuters

Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content