An attack carried out by the heavily armed Libyan militias at Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli has killed 20 people and injured 69.
The deadly attack damaged a number of aircraft and forced authorities to close the Mitiga airport. All civilian air traffic to the capital had been suspended until further notice.
Following the incident, employees were evacuated from the airport.
The gun battle was a result of rivalry between the airport’s Rada Special Deterrent Force and militia led by Bashir al-Baqara.
Acting as an anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit, Rada controls the airport and is also aligned with the Government of National Accord (GNA). Rivals occasionally target the unit for arresting its members.
One Airbus A319 operated by Afriqiyah Airways was parked in a hangar at Mitiga with a hole in its roof from artillery fire, Reuters reported citing one of its reporters.
The news agency quoted GNA saying that the attack had ‘endangered the lives of passengers, affected aviation safety and terrorised residents’.
Four other aircraft suffered lesser damage from gunfire, including two Libyan Wings-operated jets and two Buraq Air Boeing 737s.
After the international airport was put out of service in 2014, the Mitiga military airbase near the centre of Tripoli started hosting civilian flights.