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Tripoli Airport comes under rocket attack despite ceasefire

The interior of Mitiga airport is seen empty following clashes, in Tripoli, Libya, September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Hani Amara

Earlier this month, the United Nation’s mission in Libya announced a ceasefire between the rival armed groups in the capital. However, less than a week after the truce, the only functioning airport of Tripoli came under a rocket fire, just days after reopening.

The attack is being seen as an emphasizer of fragility of the peace push in the North African nation. It happened on Tuesday night, where several rockets hit the perimeter of Mitiga International Airport on the eastern outskirts of Tripoli. However, no casualties have been caused.

The airport had only reopened after a week-long closure, on Friday, due to the deadly fighting between rival militias in and around Tripoli. According to the civil aviation authority, the flights were diverted to Misrata, which is 190 km east of Tripoli. Besides, the airport officials said all flights would be rerouted.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility of the rocket attacks. However, as reported by Al Jazeera, a new group known as the Tripoli Youth Movement claimed its responsibility.

The group posted a video on Facebook on Sunday, calling on maintenance workers to evacuate the airport. They also called for armed militias operating under the internationally-recognised Government National Accord (GNA) to give back control of the airport to civilian authorities.

Al Jazeera reported that the authorities have asked that planes stationed at Mitiga airport be flown out to other facilities. This is because the authorities are worried of damages of the planes possible due to the stray rockets that might land in the area.

Tripoli has been gripped under violence since August 27, as rival armed groups are vying for control of the capital. The violence had caused deaths of at least 63 people and wounded 159 others, which mostly includes civilians, dousing hopes of elections being held this year.

Last month too, several rockets had struck near the airport. Even then, the authorities were forced to divert all flights to Misrata.

The oil-rich country has been affected by turmoil, since the former President Muammar Ghadafi was overthrown and killed, in 2011. Moreover, Tripoli has been at the centre of a battle for influence between armed groups with shifting allegiances.

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