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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid