Fighting breaks out near Tripoli airport in Libya capital

Fighting breaks out near Tripoli airport in Libya capital
Libya's capital has seen fighting that has ledt at least nine dead, after militia fighters attacked Tripoli International Airport on Monday.
2 min read
15 January, 2018
Tripoli airport came under fire from unknown assailants [AFP]

At least nine people were killed when unknown militiamen attacked the Libyan capital's main functioning airport, the UN-recognised government in Tripoli said on Monday.

"Initial toll following the fighting on the perimeter of Mitiga airport: 5 dead at Mitiga hospital and 4 dead at the cardiac surgery hospital in Tajura. The number of wounded will be communicated later," the unity government's health ministry said on Facebook.

It was not immediately clear whether those killed were civilians or fighters.

Battles erupted after unidentified fighters attacked the airport to free colleagues detained at a jail there, a force loyal to the unity government said earlier.

Flights have been suspended while the sound of gunfire and artillery could be heard from the capital, Reuters reported.

The Special Deterrence Force - known as Rada - is tasked with fighting crime and terrorism in Tripoli and reportedly involved in clashes with a rival militia in the capital's Tajoura neighbourhood.

Rada said its forces were attacked by a group or individual named "Bashir the Cow" at Mitiga airport, although there is no confirmation about the identity of the assailant.

Mitiga was a military base until it was converted for civilian use after the city's international airport was put out of action due to fighting.

Agencies contributed to this story.