Rocket attacks on Libya airport destroy 90% of planes

Libya's main airport in Tripoli is hit by new rocket attack, as government considers seeking security help from international forces.

Libya's international airport in Tripoli came under renewed attack Monday with dozens of rocket-propelled grenades fired
Libya's international airport in Tripoli came under renewed attack Monday with dozens of rocket-propelled grenades fired

Several rockets have reportedly hit the airport in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where fighting between rival armed groups has been raging since Sunday.

Several Grad rocket struck the airport late on Monday, destroying 90% of the planes parked there, including a $250 million Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A330.

"The government has studied the possibility to bring international forces to enhance security," he said.

The rockets damaged the airport's control tower and two people were killed in the attack, the Reuters news agency reported.

Yesterday, Air Malta said that it had temporarily cancelled its daily scheduled flights to Tripoli, due to closure of Tripoli International Airport. Authorities had closed the airport due to previous fighting on Sunday, which medics say killed at least seven people .

In addition to the closure of Tripoli airport, Misrata city airport was also shut on Monday. This, along with the closure two months ago of Benghazi airport, leaves the country with only a land route to Tunisia.

The Tripoli air control centre 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 centre is responsible for traffic in Tripoli, Misrata and Sabha. People living in western Libya must make an arduous road journey to Tunisia.

Rival militias have clashed for control of the airport. The powerful Zintan armed group, which has been in control of the airport since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, was still holding it by Monday.

Meanwhile, the United Nations mission in Libya said it was withdrawing its staff from Libya "temporarily" because of the deteriorating security in the country.

Tripoli has been witnessing one of its worst spasms of violence since the ouster of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Militias, many of which originate from rebel forces that fought Gaddafi, have become powerful players in post-war Libya, filling a void left by weak police and security and cooperating with the government to provide order.

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