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Libya capital flights suspended after deadly rocket fire

Thursday August 15 2019

Mitiga airport Tripoli

This photo taken on April 8, 2019, shows the Mitiga International Airport in Libya's capital Tripoli. Rocket fire hit the airport on August 11, violating a temporary truce between the unity government and forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar. PHOTO | MAHMUD TURKIA | AFP 

AFP
By AFP
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TRIPOLI,

Flights from the Libyan capital's sole functioning airport were suspended Thursday after deadly overnight rocket fire, a spokesman for the country's unity government said.

Moustafa al-Mejii of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said Wednesday night's rocket fire "killed a guard and wounded several security agents tasked with protecting the airport".

The attack was carried out by "the militias of (military strongman Khalifa) Haftar from their positions south of Tripoli", he told AFP, adding that flights to Mitiga were being diverted.

Located east of Tripoli, Mitiga is a former military airbase that has been used by civilian traffic since Tripoli international airport suffered severe damage during fighting in 2014.

Mitiga is in a zone under the control of forces loyal to the GNA and has often been targeted, leading to repeated suspensions of flights.

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STIFF RESISTANCE

Haftar's self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive in April to seize Tripoli from GNA forces. It has encountered stiff resistance, resulting in stalemate in the capital's southern outskirts.

United Nations envoy Ghassan Salame, in a report to the UN Security Council at the end of last month, urged "authorities in Tripoli to cease using the airport for military purposes and for the attacking forces to halt immediately their targeting of it".

The GNA protested at what it said were "untruths" in the envoy's report.

Over the past four months, 1,093 people have been killed in the fighting and 5,752 wounded, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 120,000 people have been displaced.

Libya has been mired in chaos since a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.