March 9, 2019 / 6:40 PM / 4 months ago

Libya's Tripoli airport reopens after drone alert

FILE PHOTO: The interior of Mitiga airport is seen empty following clashes, in Tripoli, Libya, September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Hani Amara/File Photo

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - The airport in the Libyan capital Tripoli reopened on Saturday after a brief closure due to an unidentified drone flying in the area, officials said.

Residents have repeatedly spotted drones flying over Tripoli in the past few days but the reason is not clear.

People in the capital have been on edge due to rumours that the eastern-based Libya National Army (LNA) loyal to Khalifa Haftar might seek to take it after gaining control of much of the south.

Haftar has not said he wants to march on Tripoli but an LNA website carried an unsourced report this week saying it could happen, adding that the LNA was working with people inside the city.

The United Nations, alarmed about the possibility of a military escalation, is mediating between Haftar, who is allied to a parallel government in the east, and Tripoli premier Fayez al-Serraj, who heads the U.N.-backed administration.

The United Nations has been trying for years to pull the oil producer out of conflict but made little progress.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami, Ayman al-Warfalli and Hesham Hajali; Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Kirsten Donovan

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