News / Middle East

UN Pulls Staff Out of Libya as Clashes Kill 13, Close Airports

Smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport, July 13, 2014.
Smoke rises from the direction of Tripoli airport, July 13, 2014.
Reuters

The United Nations on Monday pulled its staff out of Libya where at least 13 people have been killed in fighting in the eastern city of Benghazi and in Tripoli, forcing the closure of the international airport.

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

Militias also clashed in the capital Tripoli on Sunday, killing at least seven people, shutting the main airport and air control center and effectively leaving Libya with no international flights. The fighting was the worst in the capital for six months.

The U.N. mission in Libya said the closure of Tripoli International Airport and the deteriorating security situation made it impossible to fulfill its work.

Three years after the fall of Moammer Gadhafi, Libya has slipped deeper into chaos with its weak government and new army unable to control brigades of former rebel fighters and militias who often battle for political and economic power.

In Benghazi, irregular forces loyal to renegade former general Khalifa Haftar bombarded Islamist militia bases as part of his campaign to oust militants, and special forces also clashed with militia fighters in the city.

Most of the dead and injured were civilians, according to security and medical sources at Benghazi hospital. At least 10 houses were hit with missiles and government offices and banks were forced to close.

Tripoli airport and Misrata city airport were closed on Monday which, along with the closure two months ago of Benghazi airport, leaves the country with only a land route to Tunisia, a flashback to the 1990s when Libya was under U.N. sanctions.

The Tripoli air control center covering western Libya was closed because it was not safe for staff to go to work, aviation officials and state news agency Lana said on Monday. The control center is responsible for traffic in Tripoli, Misrata and Sabha.

That leaves only the tiny Labraq and Tobruk airports in the east, with few international connections, open for traffic. People living in western Libya must make an arduous road journey to Tunisia.

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.  

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs