More reports on: Defence general

Cut off from the world, Libya to seek international armed aid

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15 July 2014

Libya's government said today it was considering an appeal to international forces to help re-establish security after deadly clashes closed Tripoli airport, severing air links with the outside world.

Fighting between liberal and Islamist militias, locked in a brutal power struggle, forced the closure of the main international airport in the country's capital, leaving the North African state feeling increasingly isolated.

On Monday, the United Nations announced it was evacuating its remaining staff from Libya because of the deteriorating security situation.

The locked-down airport came under renewed attack late Monday when dozens of rockets were fired, including one that hit a plane. A security guard was killed and six others injured in the incident, officials said.

Al-Jilani al-Dahech, a security official at Tripoli airport, told AFP that the control tower was hit along with a plane belonging to private Libyan carrier Buraq Airlines.

Shortly after the attack the government released a statement saying it was "looking into the possibility of making an appeal for international forces on the ground to re-establish security and help the government impose its authority".

The statement from a spokesman added that the forces would help protect civilians, prevent anarchy and allow the government to build up the army and police.

International air power helped overthrow long-time Libyan strongman Moamer Kadhafi [variously spelt] in 2011, sparking a power struggle between rival armed groups that has wracked the oil producing state.

Fighting between militias has intensified since a general election in June and the UN said it was withdrawing its remaining staff.

"UNSMIL (United Nations Support Mission in Libya) temporarily withdrawing staff from Libya because of security situation," the mission, which already pulled out dozens of personnel last week, said in a statement.

"After the latest fighting on Sunday and because of the closure of Tripoli international airport, the mission concluded that it would not be possible to continue its work... while at the same time ensuring the security and safety of its staff."

Tripoli international airport was shut down for at least three days after the Zintan militia which controls it came under attack by Islamist fighters on Sunday.

On Monday, Libya also suspended all flights to and from the city of Misrata, west of the capital, which is dependent on Tripoli airport for its operations.

"Libya is now practically cut off from the outside world," a source at the airport said.





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