Tripoli airport shelling hits fuel tanks, passenger plane-ministry
TUNIS: Shelling of Tripoli’s Mitiga airport early on Saturday, part of an intensified barrage of artillery fire on the capital in recent days, hit fuel tanks and damaged passenger planes, the Transport Ministry said in a statement.
Mitiga is the last functioning airport in the Libyan capital, though civilian flights stopped in March because of repeated shelling even before the country imposed a lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
Brega Petroleum Marketing Company, part of the National Oil Corporation, said its jet fuel tanks at Mitiga caught fire after coming under attack and firemen were working to control the blaze.
The Transport Ministry, blaming eastern-based forces of Khalifa Haftar, said one of the damaged planes was preparing to fly to Spain to retrieve Libyans stranded in Europe by the coronavirus lockdown.
Video shared with Reuters by an airport worker showed plumes of black smoke billowing over the apron. Photographs showed shrapnel damage sprayed across the nose of a passenger plane.
Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) has been fighting for more than a year to capture Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), with frequent shelling of the capital.
According to the United Nations, four fifths of the 130 civilian casualties recorded in the Libyan conflict in the first quarter of the year were caused by LNA ground fighting. - Reuters