Heavy clashes erupt over Tripoli airport, at least four dead

TRIPOLI Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:47am EDT

A general view of the front of the airport is seen after a shelling at Tripoli International Airport July 17, 2014.  REUTERS/Hani Amara

A general view of the front of the airport is seen after a shelling at Tripoli International Airport July 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Hani Amara

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Heavy fighting erupted on Sunday around Tripoli International Airport, where rival militias have been battling for control, killing at least four people and forcing thousands from their homes, local residents and witnesses said.

The airport standoff is the most serious violence in Tripoli since the 2011 fall of Muammar Gaddafi, with Libya's fragile government unable to assert authority over rival brigades of former rebels fighting for political and economic power.

Militias used heavy anti-aircraft cannons, Grad missiles and rockets in exchanges around the Qasr Ben Ghashir neighborhood, trapping some families while several thousand others fled the fighting around their homes, community leaders said.

One Reuters witness said gunmen were set up on roofs of homes facing each other with residents caught in between.

"The shells are landing on us from all warring militias," said Mohammed Abdulrahman, a spokesman for the district. "We couldn't reach some families until now."

A doctor from a local hospital said they had received nine wounded from the area. A health ministry official did not return calls seeking confirmation of the death toll.

The fighting broke out just days after one powerful militia said it was ready to put an end to heavy clashes that had deepened fears the vast North African oil-producing country is becoming a failed state.

The battle pits fighters from Zintan in the northwest and their allies, who controlled the airport since the ousting of Gaddafi, against armed groups tied to Misrata, a western coastal town. Both are loosely allied with competing Islamist and nationalist political factions.

The clashes have all but suspended international flights from Libya, damaged more than a dozen planes parked at the airport and prompted the United Nations to pull its staff out of the country because of security fears.

(Reporting by Firas Bosalum; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Dale Hudson)

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Comments (4)
rwaynewright wrote:
There should be a new section in future Trivia Pursuit games. Pick a hot spot of death and destruction in the world and name the Moslem sect responsible. They are more like criminal cartels than religious zealots fighting for Allah. Beyond total chaos to keep authorities busy, their goals seem to be garnering all the money making enterprises like poppy production, oil fields, gold reserves, et cetera. The ignorant peasants they send off to blow up innocents are the only ones gullible enough to think they are dying for Allah and martyrdom. Until the non-Moslem nations coordinate their attacks we will continue to be held hostage by these Islamic terrorists.

Jul 20, 2014 10:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
rwaynewright wrote:
There should be a new section in future Trivia Pursuit games. Pick a hot spot of death and destruction in the world and name the Moslem sect responsible. They are more like criminal cartels than religious zealots fighting for Allah. Beyond total chaos to keep authorities busy, their goals seem to be garnering all the money making enterprises like poppy production, oil fields, gold reserves, et cetera. The ignorant peasants they send off to blow up innocents are the only ones gullible enough to think they are dying for Allah and martyrdom. Until the non-Moslem nations coordinate their attacks we will continue to be held hostage by these Islamic terrorists.

Jul 20, 2014 10:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
prolibertate wrote:
The slaughter of innocents is the only guaranteed outcome of NATOs humanitarian love bombs.

rwaynewright: Pick any country where innocents are being slaughtered and you will find US intervention there. The CIA (Cocaine Import Agency) is the ones who are involved with the bumper crop poppy production. Scratch any organized crime cartel find the US govt lurking there. Get your facts straight. Your religious bigotry has apparently blinded you from being able to do even cursory web searches. Or is your blindness a conscious choice?

Jul 20, 2014 12:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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