Libyans flee Tripoli violence

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iol pic afr HNA03_LIBYA-_0728_11 REUTERS A damaged building is pictured after clashes between rival militias, in an area at Alswani road in Tripoli. Picture: Hani Amara

Tunis -

Thousands of Libyans have been crossing the border into Tunisia to flee fighting between rival militias in Tripoli, the state-run Tunisian news agency TAP reported on Tuesday.

About 6 000 people crossed the border on Monday, it said.

The Tunisian Interior Ministry says some 1.5 million Libyans live in Tunisia, including many who fled during the conflict that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Rival militias have been fighting for two weeks for control of the main airport in Tripoli, where two fuel tanks are burning out of control.

Al-Wasat news website reported that a ceasefire agreement was reached in the vicinity of the airport to allow firefighters to put out the fire at the Brega Oil and Gas Company's depot.

The Italian government and ENI energy company will send seven fire-fighting planes to control the fire, the Libyan government said.

The fire began on Sunday night when a rocket hit a container with 6.6 million litres of fuel, al-Wasat reported. Overall, the tankers in the warehouse contain 90 million litres of fuel.

At least 97 people have been killed and more than 400 injured since the fight for the airport began, al-Wasat reported on Sunday quoting a Health Ministry official. Islamist militias allied to the leadership of Libya's interim parliament launched an offensive on the facility on July 13, taking on forces from the western town of Zintan, who have controlled it since the overthrow of Gaddafi.

The fighting has caused heavy damage to airport buildings and aircraft, prompting the authorities to suspend flights. Fighting between Islamist militias and army units in Benghazi killed 38 people on Sunday. - Sapa-dpa

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