Rival Groups Clash at Libya's Main Airport, Six Killed

Published: 13th July 2014 11:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th July 2014 11:18 PM   |  A+A-

By IANS

TRIPOLI: Armed clashes broke out at Libya's busiest airport in capital Tripoli Sunday, killing six people and injuring 25 others, a health ministry official said.

Intense gunfire was constantly heard for a few hours after some big explosions, Xinhua reported citing a resident as saying. 

Sources said the fight erupted between the Islamist armed groups and militia from south-western Libyan city of Zintan that controls the airport. 

Both sides claimed to have taken control of the air hub on their websites.

Nour Edine Doghman, Libyan health minister, said the fighting killed six and wounded 25 people, with the injured being sent to different hospitals. 

According to the local media reports, some rocket-propelled grenades hit the runway, thus disrupting both domestic and international flights. 

British Airlines, Egypt Air, Tunisair and Turkish Airways have cancelled their flights through the airport, while Libya's Afriqiyah Airways has redirected all flights arriving Tripoli to Misrata. 

The Islamist militant groups, including Central Libya Shield, the Marsa Misratan Brigade, Hateen, the 27th Mobile Infantry and the Libyan Revolutionaries Operation Room, encircled the airport and used heavy weapons to bomb the defenders, Xinhua quoted local media as saying.

Meanwhile, it was still unclear as to why the armed groups were trying to seize the airport.

Tripoli International Airport has been under control of the Zintan militia groups since the 2011 turmoil that toppled Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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