7 Die in Battle for Libya's Main Airport

Flights canceled as rival militias clash
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2014 1:42 AM CDT
7 Die in Battle for Libya's Main Airport
Smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya yesterday.   (AP Photo)

All flights to Libya's main international airport have been suspended while rival militias battle for control of the facility. In Tripoli's worst violence since November, at least seven people have been killed and dozens injured in battles between militia members from the Zintan region, who have controlled the airport since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, and fighters believed to be from the city of Misrata, Al Jazeera reports. Witnesses reported hearing explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire coming from the airport early yesterday.

According to witnesses, Libyan troops fighting with the Misrata militia surrounded the airfield and fired rockets at buildings inside. Civilian aviation authorities say the airport will be closed for at least three days, the AP reports. The latest violence between the militias that fill many security functions in Libya comes as the country waits for the results of last month's elections, which the US fears could lead to more fighting. The US "is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence in Libya and dangerous posturing that could lead to widespread conflict there," a State Department spokeswoman said yesterday. (More Libya stories.)

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