Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gunfire near Tripoli airport threatens country's stability

According to Libyan officials, fierce gun battles broke out near the international airport in Tripoli. An unnamed army spokesman told Libyan TV that on Saturday 10th December two gunmen opened fire on a convoy accompanying army chief Maj Gen Khalifa Haftar. He added that it was an "isolated incident".

The attack was reportedly followed by further clashes along the road. The latest violence adds to concerns about the country's stability following the death of Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi.

The reports are, however, conflicting. Some army officials have told AP news agency that the rebels belonging to the Zintan brigade - who control the airport - were behind the attack. But a member of the Zintan brigade, Abu Bakr al-Ahrash, told AFP that it was the army who attacked his unit near the airport.

He said: "They confiscated two pick-up trucks loaded with anti-aircraft guns. They tried to take control of the checkpoint. They wounded two of our fighters and arrested two others."

The clashes came on the same day as the country's governing National Transitional Council (NTC) held its first conference on national reconciliation. It has given militias in Tripoli until 31 December to disarm and leave the city.

Sources: BBC News, AP, AFP

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

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