News / Middle East

Kerry Says Violence in Libya Must Stop

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, July 15, 2014.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference in Vienna, July 15, 2014.
Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday called for a halt to “dangerous” levels of violence in Libya after militia clashes in Tripoli closed the country's main airport, destroyed most planes parked there, and prompted the United Nations to evacuate its staff.

In some of the worst violence in months, at least 15 people have been killed in clashes in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi since Sunday, and a Libyan official said several Grad rockets hit the Tripoli International Airport on Monday, damaging the control tower.

With its new government struggling to impose order since the 2011 rebellion that ousted Moammer Gadhafi, Libya is sliding deeper into turmoil with rival brigades of former rebels battling for political and economic power.

So far the authorities have attempted to rein in militia fighters by putting them on the government payroll, but months of protests over oilfields and ports have cut into the government's revenues as its economic troubles mount.

A NATO coalition helped rebels topple Gadhafi, but the military alliance has not intervened to stem the subsequent chaos despite Libyan suggestions that Tripoli was looking at ways that foreign troops might be able to help.

“We are deeply concerned about the level of violence in Libya,” Kerry told a news conference following talks on Iran's nuclear program in Vienna.

“It is dangerous and it must stop. We are working very, very hard through our special envoys to find the political cohesion ... that can bring people together to create stronger capacity in the government of Libya so that this violence can end.”

Western powers fear chaos in Libya will allow arms and militants to flow across its borders. The south of the vast desert country has become a haven for Islamist militants kicked out of Mali by French forces earlier this year.

Government spokesman Ahmed Lamine said Tripoli was studying the possibility of international forces to improve security. But it was unclear whether there was any real Libyan proposal or international willingness to have foreign troops based in the North African state where heavily armed militias often clash.

NATO air strikes helped rebels in their civil war against Gadhafi's soldiers three years ago, but since his fall Libya struggled in its democratic transition and western governments have been frustrated in attempts to broker a political accord.

A fragile government and parliament have been deadlocked in political struggles between rival Islamist, nationalist and tribal factions each allied to competing brigades of heavily armed former rebels who refuse to disarm and often use their military might to make demands.

The latest heavy fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of Libya's main airport on Sunday, killing at least seven people and forcing a halt of all flights in the worst fighting in the capital for six months.

The U.N. mission in Libya said the closure of Tripoli airport and the deteriorating security situation made it impossible for it to operate.

Sanctions flashback

Misrata city airport was also closed on Monday, and  Benghazi airport has been closed since May. That leaves only two small airports in the south and a land route via Tunisia as the country's only gateways to the outside world, a flashback to the 1990s when Libya was under U.N. sanctions.

Tripoli residents said a Grad rocket struck the airport perimeter late on Monday. A Reuters reporter at the airport heard anti-aircraft guns and other heavy weapons.

The government spokesman said 90 percent of the planes parked at the airport were destroyed.

In Benghazi, irregular forces loyal to renegade former general Khalifa Haftar, a former Gadhafi ally, bombarded Islamist militia bases as part of his self-declared campaign to oust militants. Special forces clashed with militia fighters in the city.

Security and medical sources said at least six people had been killed and 25 wounded in Benghazi in heavy fighting between security forces and rival militias since late Sunday.

Libya's government has managed to end a port blockade by one brigade of militiamen who had controlled four main oil terminals to demand more autonomy for their eastern region. That protest and others at oilfields slashed the OPEC country's production.

Libya's oil production has risen to 588,000 barrels per day (bpd), the country's acting oil minister told Reuters on Tuesday, despite the increase in violence in the country since the weekend.

Oil output has been recovering since the deal with rebels to bring most of the port blockades to an end. On Sunday a spokesman for the National Oil Corp said output was at 470,000 bpd as production at the El Sharara oilfield ramps up.  

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More