Rockets fired near airport in Tripoli, Daesh claims attack on oil company

Firefighters and rescuers gather in front of the headquarters of Libya's National Oil Company in the capital Tripoli on September 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Rockets fired near airport in Tripoli, Daesh claims attack on oil company

  • Daesh claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the headquarters of Libyan state oil company NOC in Tripoli

TRIPOLI: Rockets were fired late on Tuesday in the direction of the airport in Libya’s capital, residents said, forcing flights to be diverted, less than a week after the United Nations brokered a fragile truce between rival armed groups in Tripoli.
A spokesman for a faction controlling Matiga airport, the only one functioning in the capital, said there were no casualties or damage. Libyan channels reported that several people had been wounded by the rockets, one of which landed in the Mediterranean sea.
Rival groups have been fighting in Tripoli for several days but clashes had been focused on the south of the city. Matiga airport lies in an eastern suburb.
A Libyan Airlines flight bound for Tripoli from Alexandria, Egypt, was diverted to Misrata, the airport said on its Facebook page. Misrata lies about 190 km (120 miles) east of Tripoli.
A spokesman for Misrata airport said that all flights bound for Tripoli would be diverted to Misrata.
Separately, Daesh claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on the headquarters of Libyan state oil company NOC in Tripoli, the jihadist group’s news agency said on Tuesday.
The attack on Monday killed two NOC staff and wounded 10, said officials, who had described the three shooters who were also killed as “Africans.”
It targeted the “economic interests of oppressing governments funding crusaders,” a statement carried on the militants’ Amaq news agency said.
It was the first attack of its kind against the leadership of Libya’s state oil industry.
Libya has been divided into rival administrations but NOC has continued to function relatively normally across the country, which relies on oil exports for most of its income.
Militants loyal to Daesh have previously carried out attacks in Tripoli and other towns, despite having lost their stronghold in the central city of Sirte late in 2016.
In May, Daesh claimed a deadly attack on the national election commission offices in Tripoli.


Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

Updated 18 September 2018
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Libya rivals clash south of capital, causing blackouts

  • Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport
  • Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the country

TRIPOLI: New clashes flared between rival militias south of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Tuesday, causing widespread power outages, the national electricity firm said.
The fighting underscored the fragility of a United Nations-backed cease-fire reached earlier this month after days of deadly violence between armed groups in the capital, beset by turmoil since the fall of dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Tuesday morning’s clashes centered on the main road to Tripoli’s long-closed international airport, according to witnesses including an AFP journalist.
Libya’s National Electricity Company said its network had been damaged, causing a total blackout across the North African nation’s south and west.
Fighting which broke out late last month killed at least 63 people and wounded 159 others — mostly civilians — before the cease-fire came into effect on September 4.
Last week, the capital’s only working airport came under rocket fire just days after reopening following the truce.
Mitiga International Airport, located in a former military base that includes a prison, is currently controlled by the Special Deterrence Forces, a Salafist militia which serves as Tripoli’s police force and has been involved in clashes around the capital.
Interior Minister Abdessalam Ashour said Monday that a “regular force” would be tasked with securing the airport.
UN envoy Ghassan Salame later reported 14 cease-fire violations around Tripoli, but sought to play them down, saying the deal had been “generally respected.”
Tripoli’s main airport has been out of action since it was severely damaged by similar clashes in 2014.
Since Qaddafi’s fall in 2011, oil-rich Libya has been rocked by violence between dozens of armed groups vying for control of its cities and vast oil resources.
A UN-brokered agreement signed in Morocco in December 2015 established the Government of National Accord (GNA) in a bid to ease the chaos.
But deep divisions remain between the GNA and rivals including military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who is based in eastern Libya and backs a competing authority.
The GNA last week announced a series of measures to secure the capital and curb the influence of militias over state institutions and banks.