Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

Khalifa Haftar, Libya's eastern-based commander, salutes as he participates in a security conference in Benghazi recently. (Reuters)
Updated 17 October 2017

Fighting in Libyan capital delays flights

TRIPOLI: Civilian flights were suspended for several hours at the Libyan capital’s Mitiga airport on Monday evening and Tuesday morning as rival armed groups clashed nearby, a spokesman said.
Sporadic shooting could be heard early on Tuesday near Mitiga, a military air base near the center of Tripoli that has also hosted civilian flights since the international airport was largely destroyed by fighting in 2014.
The airport had reopened by midday. “The flights were suspended but the airport is working normally now,” said Mitiga spokesman Khaled Abukhrais.
The clashes began when the Special Deterrence Force (Rada), a group that controls Mitiga and operates as an anti-crime unit aligned with the UN-backed government, conducted raids in the nearby neighborhood of Ghrarat.
Rada spokesman Ahmed bin Salem said the group targeted in the raids had tried to attack the airport area after a “wanted drug dealer” had been killed when he fired on a Rada patrol.
“The area of Ghrarat is now under the control of our forces and it’s being treated as military zone so we can clear any resistance,” Bin Salem said.
One member of Rada had been killed and two wounded, and there were several casualties among their opponents, he said.
Tripoli is controlled by various armed groups that have built local power bases since Libya’s 2011 revolution.
There have been fewer heavy confrontations in the capital since groups linked to a previous, self-declared government were pushed out of the city earlier this year, but armed skirmishes, kidnapping and other criminal activity are still common.


Algerian court jails protesters over election

Updated 19 November 2019

Algerian court jails protesters over election

ALGIERS: An Algerian court has jailed four protesters for 18 months for disrupting a candidate’s campaign for the Dec. 12 presidential election which is opposed by a mass protest movement.
The court sentenced the four on Monday after protests on Sunday in the western city of Tlemcen, where one of the five candidates, Ali Benflis, was campaigning. No details were available on what their exact actions were.
Algeria’s authorities are trying to quell a protest movement that erupted in February to demand the departure of the country’s ruling hierarchy, an end to corruption and the army’s withdrawal from politics.
The army, which has emerged as the most powerful institution in the country, has pushed for next month’s election as a means to end the protests and restore normality. The former president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, quit in April.
The judgment comes a week after a series of other prison sentences were handed down to protesters who had raised flags with Berber symbols during earlier demonstrations.
Several opposition leaders have also been held during the protests, and charged with contributing to damaging army morale.
However, the authorities have also detained numerous current and former senior officials on corruption charges, and have jailed some of them including the once untouchable former intelligence chief.
The protesters have rejected any presidential election carried out now, saying the continued presence of Bouteflika allies in the upper echelons of the government mean it cannot be free or fair.
Human Rights Watch said last week that the arrest of scores of protesters looked like “part of a pattern of trying to weaken opposition to Algeria’s interim rulers and their determination to hold presidential elections.”