Clashes force closure of airport in Libyan capital

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A Tripoli Airport was forced to shut down on Monday following heavy clashes around the facility, causing disruptions to flight to and from the country.

The fighting pitted the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), one of the most powerful groups in the city, against a rival group based in Tripoli’s Tajoura neighborhood.

Rada acts as an anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit and controls Mitiga airport and a large prison next to it. It is occasionally targeted by rivals whose members it has arrested.

The bodies of at least nine combatants had been brought to a nearby hospital, a health ministry official said. Local media reported that at least 28 people had been wounded.

Mitiga is a military air base near the center of Tripoli that has been the city’s main airport for civilian flights since the international airport was partly destroyed by fighting in 2014.

The international airport remains out of service.

Libya has been rocked by fighting since the 2011 ouster and killing of Muammar Gaddafi.

The North African country’s political uncertainty has endured since, with various jihadist groups and human trafficking rings trying to create a base for themselves there.

Libya has been reported to be the most preferred departure point for migrants seeking to reach Europe.

The country is however hoping to hold a vote later this year to create a unified government and bring to an end to the existence of two separate administrations.

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