Tripoli airport still under militia control

iol nws dec 11 tripoli unrest REUTERS Libyan fighters attend a demonstration against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Martyr's Square in Tripoli.

Tripoli - A gunbattle broke out overnight when armed men in the vehicles of Libya's new national army tried to take control of Tripoli's airport from a powerful militia, the commander of the airport's security force said on Sunday.

It was the latest in a series of clashes between the rival militias which, in the absence of a fully-functioning central government, have wielded real power on the streets in Libya since a revolt forced out former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Mukhtar Al-Akhdar, commander of a militia unit from Zintan, south-west of Tripoli, which controls the international airport, told Reuters a convoy of vehicles approached a checkpoint about 3km from the airport.

He said the armed men in the convoy said they had come to take over security, and a gunfight then broke out.

“No one was killed. We have only two people injured on our side,” Al-Akhdar said. “These people were using national army vehicles. When we asked (acting army chief of staff Khalifa) Haftar about it, he said he did not know these people.”

He said the row was defused after intervention from the head of the National Transitional Council (NTC) Mustafa Abdel Jalil, caretaker Prime Minister Abdurrahim El-Keib and Defence Minister Osama Al-Juwali.

NTC military spokesman Ahmed Bani did not comment on the details of the incident but said: “There is no political or other problem. The problem is now sorted out.” - Reuters



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