Fresh fighting erupts near Tripoli's airport road
Spent bullet shells litter the ground as a member of the Islamist-linked militia of Misrata walks past following three days of battles in the area of Tripoli's International airport, on August 21, 2014. [AFP]
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Heavy fighting has once again broken out between rival militants around the international airport in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, forcing locals to flee their homes.
The heavy gun battle involved members of the two warring militia groups from the cities of Misrata and Zintan, who have been fighting for control of the airport.
Thursday’s clashes took place outside a General Staff camp building, which remains under the control of the Misrata Brigade.
Several buildings were damaged during the fighting, resulting in local residents leaving their houses.
The airport standoff is the most serious violence in Tripoli since the 2011 fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the North African country.
On Thursday, Tunisia and Egypt also halted flights to and from neighboring Libya for security reasons.
This comes as parallel fighting is underway in Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, where forces loyal to renegade retired General Khalifa Haftar are battling militants who refuse to lay down arms.
Earlier this month, Libya’s newly elected parliament asked the UN for a military intervention to protect civilians amid relentless clashes. The legislative body also voted to dissolve rival militias, giving them an ultimatum to join the military and police by the end of 2014.
Nearly three years after a popular uprising, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.