(Reuters) – Heavy fighting broke out between rival militias vying for control of Libya’s main airport on Sunday, killing at least seven people and forcing a halt of all flights in the worst fighting in the capital for six months.
Explosions and anti-aircraft gunfire were heard from early morning on the airport road and other parts of Tripoli until the situation seemed to calm down in the late afternoon.
Residents said that militiamen from the northwestern region of Zintan who had controlled the airport came under fire, and local TV footage suggested that the attacking rebels were from the western city of Misrata.
The fighting is part of growing turmoil in the North African oil producer, where the government is unable to control battle-hardened militias that helped to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 but continue to defy state authority.
Many Libyans are weary of militias whose members theoretically work for the government but who in reality appear to do as they please — fighting each other or seizing oilfields and ministries as they press their own financial and political demands on authorities.