TRIPOLI: An air raid claimed by a renegade anti-Islamist general’s forces targeted the Libyan capital’s sole operational airport on Monday, a day after Islamists were driven out of a key western town.
A low-flying fighter fired two missiles at Mitiga airport, which is in an eastern suburb of Tripoli and held by Fajr Libya, an anti-government Islamist militia coalition which controls the capital, witnesses said.
A security source said the strike caused no damage to the terminal or runway, although flights were temporarily diverted to Misrata airport, 200 kilometres (125 miles) east of Tripoli.
Libyan carriers moved civilian flights to Mitiga after Tripoli’s main international airport was damaged by fierce fighting in the capital between state-backed fighters and Fajr Libya in July.
Fighting persists between the two sides in western Libya, where pro-government militias are supported by forces loyal to retired general Khalifa Haftar, and air raids frequently target Fajr Libya positions.
“It was our air forces which carried out the air raid on Mitiga base” held by “terrorist groups”, General Saqr al-Jarrushi, a spokesman for Haftar, told AFP, referring to Fajr Libya.
More than three years after dictator Moamer Kadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed revolt, Libya is awash with weapons and powerful militias, and run by rival governments and parliaments.
On Sunday, fighters loyal to Libya’s internationally recognised government seized the western town of Kekla after more than 40 days of clashes with Islamists, both sides said.
Pro-government fighters from the western town of Zintan, backed by parts of the army and air force loyal to Thani, launched a counter-offensive in October to wrest back control of the strategic outpost of Kekla.