May 6, 2015 / 8:14 PM / 2 years ago

Forces loyal to Libya's official government claim they shot down rival war plane

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Libya's internationally recognised government said that on Wednesday they had shot down a war plane belonging to a rival administration controlling Tripoli.

Both governments have been fighting each other with aircraft and ground troops on several front, part of a wider conflict in the oil-producing nation four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

"Our forces shot down a plane trying to attack Zintan airport," said Mohamed El Hejazi, a spokesman for the army loyal to the official government, which has been based in the east since a rival faction seized Tripoli in August.

Omar Matoog, a spokesman for the airport in Zintan, a western region allied to the eastern government, also said a MiG belonging to a rival administration in Tripoli had been shot down.

Pictures posted on social media purportedly showed the burning tail of a crashed jet in Zintan.

Tripoli officials were not immediately available for comment. In the past, Tripoli has accused Zintan of using its airport to attack targets in the capital and western Libya.

Neither side in the Libyan fighting has been able to score a decisive victory. Both rely on poorly equipped former anti-Gaddafi rebels using outdated weapons and planes.

But the ongoing violence has undermined efforts by the United Nations to persuade both sides to form a national government and agree on local cease-fires.

Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State, the group which has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, have exploited the power vacuum to kill foreigners or attack embassies and oil facilities.

Reporting by Ahmed Elumami, Feras Bosalum, Ayman al-Warfalli and Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Ulf Laessing

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