Libya clashes kill 13; UN pulls out staff
15 Jul 2014 - 5:52
TRIPOLI/BENGHAZI: The United Nations yesterday pulled its staff out of Libya where at least 13 people have been killed in fighting in the eastern city of Benghazi and in Tripoli, forcing the closure of the international airport.
Security and medical sources said at least six people were killed and 25 wounded in Benghazi in heavy fighting between security forces and rival militias since late Sunday.
Militias also clashed in the capital Tripoli on Sunday, killing at least seven people, shutting the main airport and air control centre and effectively leaving Libya with no international flights. The fighting was the worst in the capital for six months.
The UN mission in Libya said the closure of Tripoli International Airport and the deteriorating security situation made it impossible to fulfil its work.
In Benghazi, irregular forces loyal to renegade former general Khalifa Haftar bombarded Islamist militia bases as part of his campaign to oust militants, and special forces also clashed with militia fighters in the city.
Most of the dead and injured were civilians, according to security and medical sources at Benghazi hospital. At least 10 houses were hit with missiles and government offices and banks were forced to close.
Tripoli airport and Misrata city airport were closed yesterday which, along with the closure two months ago of Benghazi airport, leaves the country with only a land route to Tunisia, a flashback to the 1990s, when Libya was under UN sanctions.
The Tripoli air control centre covering western Libya was closed because it was not safe for staff to go to work, aviation officials and state news agency Lana said yesterday. The control centre is responsible for traffic in Tripoli, Misrata and Sabha.
That leaves only the tiny Labraq and Tobruk airports in the east, with few international connections, open for traffic. People living in western Libya must make an arduous road journey to Tunisia.