News / Middle East

Libya Denounces Deadly Clashes Near Airport

Libyan government's spokesman Ahmad Lamin holds a press conference in the capital as deadly clashes rage around the country's main international airport, in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.
Libyan government's spokesman Ahmad Lamin holds a press conference in the capital as deadly clashes rage around the country's main international airport, in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.
VOA News

The Libyan government condemned the heavy fighting between rival militias that broke out early Sunday around Tripoli's airport that killed at least six and injured 25.

Explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire were heard on the airport road from the early morning until the late afternoon.

Residents said that militiamen from the northwestern region of Zintan who had controlled the airport came under fire, and local TV footage suggested that the attacking rebels were from the western city of Misrata.

In this image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.In this image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.
x
In this image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.
In this image made from video by The Associated Press, smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport in Tripoli, Libya, July 13, 2014.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni read a statement denouncing the attacks.

“These forces are exercising without any orders, or legitimate cover (from the government), and from multiple locations, are bombarding and conducting military operations that threaten everyone,” Ahmed Lamin said at a news conference.

Airport closed for days

Civil aviation authorities announced the airport will be closed for at least three days because of security concerns.

"The government is demanding that the attackers unconditionally and immediately stop military action," Lamin said. "We hold the leaders of these groups fully responsible legally for the use of weapons, shedding the blood of the people, especially in the holy month of Ramadan."

The fighting is part of growing turmoil in the North African oil producer, where the government is unable to control battle-hardened militias that helped to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, but continue to defy state authority.

The Operations Cell of Libyan Revolutionaries, a coalition of Islamist militias, claimed responsibility.

The opposing groups are seen as the armed wings of two political factions, the liberals and Islamists, struggling for the upper hand in the Libyan parliament.

The statement said the government was seeking to contain the fighting.

“The government has given orders to both the ministry of interior and the army to secure the capital's streets and neighborhoods, as well as vital locations and installations. The government has also declared a state-of-emergency within all hospitals and healthcare facilities,” Lamin said.

The assault on the Zintan militia came after the United Nations pulled staff from Libya, citing security reasons, and as Washington warned of further escalation.

An airport official said rockets struck the airport perimeter around 6 a.m. (0400 GMT), followed by heavy clashes between the gunmen.

The clashes later scaled down to intermittent exchanges of automatic weapons fire, said a correspondent for the French news agency AFP.

Nabaa TV showed a Libyan Airlines plane and a transport aircraft engulfed in smoke while vehicles fired anti-aircraft volleys and fighters took up positions next to a field of sheep.

Libyan official can't travel

The closure prevented Libya's foreign minister, Mohamed Abdelaziz, from travelling to a two-day meeting near Tunis opening Sunday of his counterparts in North Africa to consider how to aid chaos-riddled Libya.

A foreign ministry source said Libya would be represented by its ambassador to Tunisia, Mohamed al-Maalul, at the closed-door meetings in Hammamet, a town south of Tunisia's capital.

Sunday's fighting was the worst in the capital since more than 40 people were killed in clashes between militias and armed residents in November.

The violence comes as the country awaits the results of the June 25 parliamentary elections.

Officials and Libya's partners had hoped the vote would give a push to state building and ease political tensions.

On Saturday, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement the U.S. is "deeply concerned" the ongoing violence in Libya could lead to "widespread conflict."   

Psaki stressed the importance of Libya's Constitutional Drafting Assembling in "building the country for which Libyans sacrificed so much during the revolution."

The new constitution has been billed as a milestone in the North African country's transition from Gadhafi dictatorship. 

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: meanbill from: USA
July 13, 2014 10:47 AM
US President Barack Obama "quote" said it; .. "We've protected thousands of people in Libya; We have not seen a single US casualty; There's (no risk) of additional escalation.. This operation is limited in time and in scope".... PS; Obama wasn't thinking about what his ignorant actions in Libya would cause, in the violence, killings, destruction and wars, his foolish actions caused (with all those Qaddafi weapons), in the Islamic world.....

NOW will somebody please tell this President who must live under a rock, "that thousands of innocent men, women and children, have been killed in Libya since the US and NATO countries attacked Libya to kill Qaddafi... and hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children have been killed by the (Qaddafi weapons from Libya), that the US supplied to other Muslims in Jordan and Turkey, to fight the Syrian government, and now Iraq."

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid