April 1, 2015 / 11:04 AM / 3 years ago

Air strikes hit airport in Libyan town, military blames rival armed group

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - An unidentified warplane carried out air strikes on the airport in Zintan, a town in western Libya allied with the internationally recognized government, and gunmen killed three guards at a checkpoint in a rival city, officials said.

No one claimed responsibility for the strike, which slightly damaged a passenger terminal, but a military source in Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni’s government blamed Libya Dawn.

The armed group seized the capital Tripoli last summer after weeks of factional fighting and set up a rival administration to Thinni‘s. The military source said Libya Dawn forces also hit the town of Rujban, again without causing casualties.

“A warplane attacked Zintan airport this morning with seven explosives, one of which went off next to the passenger terminal and damaged the front of the building, and there are no casualties,” Zintan airport spokesman Omar Matooq said.

Separately, military officials said three fighters were killed by unknown gunmen at a checkpoint outside Misrata, a city used as a base for Libya Dawn forces.

Fighting in Libya has continued even as the United Nations holds negotiations between the two rival factions to try to form a unity government, establish a ceasefire and put Libya’s transition back on track nearly four years after the fall of leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Since Libya Dawn reinstated the old parliament and set up its own government, armed factions have carried out tit-for-tat air strikes for weeks on infrastructure and oil facilities, the main source of income in the North African OPEC producer.

Oil production is currently 564,000 barrels per day, because fighting has closed some ports and fields, compared to 1.6 million bpd produced before the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami; Writing by Patrick Markey; Editing by Alison Williams

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