November 25, 2014 / 9:09 AM / in 3 years

Second air strike hits airport in Libya's capital

Men stand beside a damaged building near Mitiga airport in Libya's capital Tripoli, November 25, 2014. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny (LIBYA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)

TRIPOLI (Reuters) - An air strike hit the last functioning commercial airport in Libya’s capital Tripoli for a second day running on Tuesday, residents said, as a power struggle in the oil-rich nation intensified.

Three years after the downfall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is being lacerated by rival factions, one of which has set up an alternative administration in Tripoli after seizing the city in fighting during the summer.

An armed group loyal to Libya’s internationally-recognized government, which has transferred to the east of the country, claimed responsibility for the air strikes.

“We bombed the airport a second time,” said Saqer al-Joroushi, head of the air force for the group, which is controlled by former general Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar has been using his war planes to attack targets mainly in the eastern city of Benghazi, but recently also in western Libya. His forces say Tripoli’s Mitiga airport has been used for military purposes by their opponents.

An airport spokesman said commercial flights to the airport had been halted because of the violence.

The new government in Tripoli said several houses were hit in Monday’s strike, but said no damage was reported from the second attack on Tuesday morning.

Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni lost control of the Libyan capital in August when an armed group linked to the western city of Misrata seized the city and set up an alternative government and parliament.

Tripoli’s main airport was damaged by the summer fighting and has been closed since July, meaning commercial flights have had to use the secondary airport, Mitiga, which lies to the east of the city center.

Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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