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Rockets Target Lifeline Airport in Eastern Libya

  • Reuters

Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.

Plumes of black smoke can be seen after clashes between the Benghazi Revolutionaries Shura Council and fighters of renegade general Khalifa Haftar, as they each attempt to seize control of the airport from the council in Benghazi, Libya, Aug. 23, 2014.

Attackers fired rockets at eastern Libya's Labraq airport on Monday, its director said, targeting one of the oil producer's few functioning air hubs as violence between armed groups escalates.

The airport east of the city of Benghazi has become a major gateway into Libya since Egypt and Tunisia canceled almost all flights to the capital Tripoli and the west of the country last week, citing security reasons.

The North African nation has descended into anarchy with a weak government unable to control fighters, who helped topple strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 but now vie for control of territory and resources.

The unknown attackers used a Grad multiple rocket launcher, but did not cause any major damage and Labraq was still operating, according to director Abu Bakr al-Abidi.

Tunis Air suspended flights to Labraq and Tobruk in the far east on Sunday, Libyan officials said. It was one of the last foreign airlines still flying to Libya after rival factions turned Tripoli International Airport into a battlefield last month.

An armed faction mainly from Misrata seized Tripoli airport from a rival group from Zintan, also located in western Libya, on Saturday. The terminal has been destroyed by a fire though it is unclear who was responsible.

Benghazi's own airport has been closed since May when a renegade general launched a military campaign on Islamists in the port city.

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