Militia clashes continue at Libya's largest airport

Published August 4th, 2014 - 06:04 GMT

More than 20 people have been killed in fighting between two armed groups in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, over control of the country's international airport.

“Tripoli’s hospitals received 22 bodies and 72 people were wounded,” the Libyan government said in a statement on Sunday.

The development comes as the militant groups have been fighting for nearly three weeks.

Most Western countries have evacuated their embassies after skirmishes broke out in Tripoli and the eastern city of Benghazi.

“Mediating committees are still trying to stop the violence and return Tripoli to normal. They have faced difficulties because of the stubbornness of the militias attacking the city,” the statement added.

The clashes in Tripoli began with an attack on the airport by a coalition of militant groups, which has since been supported by fellow militants from the western city of Misrata. The airport has been closed since July 13 because of the deadly fighting there.

The attackers are fighting to drive rival militants out of the hill town of Zintan, southwest of the capital, who have controlled the airport for the past three years.

Meanwhile, in Benghazi, an alliance of militants and ex-rebels have banded together to fight against Libyan armed forces, seizing a special forces military base last week and pushing the army outside of the city.

Nearly three years after the fall of former ruler, Muammar Gaddafi, in a popular uprising in October 2011, Libya is still grappling with rising insecurity as the country has been witnessing numerous clashes between government forces and rival militant groups that refuse to lay down arms despite efforts by the central government to impose law and order.

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