File photo: Suhaib Salem

Cairo - Twenty-three Egyptian workers were killed in a rocket attack in Tripoli, where rival militias are locked in fierce fighting for control of a major airport, state-run Egyptian Middle East News Agency reported on Sunday.

A Grad rocket hit the workers' residence on a farm in the Libyan capital overnight, killing all 23 residents, the report said, quoting the head of the Egyptian community in Libya, Alaa Hadura.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said it would contact Libyan authorities to verify the report. An Islamist militia from the town of Misrata, 200 kilometres west of Tripoli, has been engaged since July 13 in fighting against an armed group from the north-western town of Zintan, which has controlled the Tripoli International Airport since the overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi in 2011.

The ongoing fighting heavily damaged the airport buildings and aircraft, prompting the authorities to suspend flights. The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Saturday and relocated all its staff to Tunisia because of the deteriorating security situation in the North African country.

Libya's rulers have struggled to impose order since Gaddafi's ouster, with the country paralysed by political infighting and the proliferation of militias. - Sapa-dpa