January 17, 2018 / 4:56 PM / a month ago

Airport in Libya's capital shut for third day after clashes

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The only functioning airport in Libya’s capital Tripoli remained shut for a third day on Wednesday after fierce clashes between armed groups damaged planes belonging to all four of the airlines that operate there.

The fighting erupted on Monday after one of the city’s many armed groups launched an attack at Mitiga Airport in an apparent effort to secure the release of prisoners held in an adjacent prison. At least 20 people were killed and 60 wounded.

“Mitiga’s air space remains closed and it is up to the authorities to decide when it will be reopened,” the airport administration said in a short statement on Wednesday.

Petro Air, which operates flights to Libyan oil fields, also said all its flights at Mitiga were still suspended.

A number of planes parked there were damaged during the clashes, including an A319 Airbus belonging to Afriqiyah Airlines, an Airbus A330 operated by Libyan Airlines, two Boeings operated to Buraq Air, and two jets operated by Libya Wings.

Some aircraft were moved for safety reasons across the capital to Tripoli’s international airport, which has been closed since 2014 due to damage from earlier fighting.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Editing by Aidan Lewis and John Stonestreet

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