Heavy clashes erupt around Tripoli airport

Rival militias have been battling for a week for control of the site.

A picture taken on 16 July 2014, shows the remains of a burnt airplane at the Tripoli international airport in the Libyan capital. Picture: AFP.

TRIPOLI - Heavy fighting has erupted around Tripoli International Airport, where rival militias have been battling for a week for control of the site, local residents said on Sunday.

The fighting broke out just days after one powerful militia said it was ready to put an end to heavy clashes that had deepened fears the north African country is becoming a failed state.

There were no immediate reports of casualties from Sunday's clashes.

Three years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's fragile government is failing to assert authority over heavily armed brigades of former rebel fighters who have often clashed over political and economic power.

The airport stand-off pits fighters from Zintan in the northwest, who controlled the airport since the ousting of Gaddafi, against armed groups tied to Misrata, a western coastal town. Both are loosely allied with competing Islamist and nationalist political factions.

The clashes have all but suspended international flights from Libya, damaged more than a dozen planes parked there and prompted the United Nations to pull its staff out of the country because of security fears.