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Airport in Libya's capital reopens after closure due to clashes

Mitiga airport, located just east of Tripoli city centre, appeared to be operating normally, with both departures and arrivals areas busy with passengers.

Libyan border police check passengers arriving at Mitiga airport a few days after militiamen attacked it in an attempt to free colleagues held at a jail there, on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli, on 20 January 2018. Picture: AFP.

TRIPOLI - The only functioning airport in the Libyan capital reopened on Saturday after a five-day closure caused by deadly clashes that left passenger jets damaged.

Mitiga airport, located just east of Tripoli city centre, appeared to be operating normally, with both departures and arrivals areas busy with passengers.

“All domestic and international flights have ...resumed,” said an airport official who asked not to be named for security reasons. “No technical problems have been reported and security is under control.”

Fighting on Monday pitted the Special Deterrence Force (SDF), which is aligned with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), and an armed group based in the nearby Tajoura district.

At least 20 people were killed and 60 wounded. The four Libyan airlines operating out of Mitiga have been rushing to repair or replace aircraft that were hit by gunfire or artillery while parked there during the battle.

Flights to evacuate or repatriate foreign migrants from Tripoli, which are mainly operated by UN agencies, were suspended because of Mitiga’s closure.

Tripoli has frequently been shaken by clashes between armed groups since Libya slid into chaos and violence following the overthrow of Mummar Gaddafi in 2011. Under the GNA, several large groups have expanded their power and the situation remains fragile.

Tripoli’s main international airport was badly damaged by fighting in 2014 and is still out of service.

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