Clashes between rival Libyan militia fighting to gain control of Tripoli International Airport, have killed 47 people over the past 24 hours in Libya’s capital city, the country's health ministry said, according to an Associated Press report.
The ministry’s website on Sunday reportedly said the fighting had also left 120 people wounded and that it was yet to receive the full casualty report. The violence at the airport, which began last week, is between a powerful militia from the western city of Zintan that controls the facility, and Islamist militia, including fighters from Misrata, east of Tripoli. The fighting resumed on Sunday after cease-fire efforts broke down.
Television footage on Sunday showed a mortar shell striking a Libyan Arab Airlines plane, AP reported, and a column of black smoke billowing from inside the airport, which has been closed since last Monday.
Libya is witnessing one of the worst bouts of violence since the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The warring militia, made up largely of former rebels that helped overthrow Gadhafi, have forced a week-long shutdown of gas stations and government offices.
Recently, vehicles carrying cash from the central bank to local banks were attacked by gunmen, forcing banks to close down, the AP report said, adding that while the central bank had expected to reopen Sunday, the ongoing fighting has forced it to remain shut.
Libyan government officials and activists have increasingly been targeted by unknown gunmen who reportedly kidnapped two lawmakers in the western suburbs of Tripoli on Sunday, a parliament statement said, urging the government to intervene and free them. Last Thursday, Fareha al-Barqawi, a female lawmaker from the liberal-leaning political bloc in the outgoing parliament, was killed in the eastern city of Darna.
In the last two days in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, gunmen killed an army officer in his car while he was driving home, and a former Special Forces officer was shot dead in the downtown Salmani district.
The U.N. Support Mission in Libya said last week that it was temporarily withdrawing its staff because of the deteriorating security situation in the region.